Hong Kong university heads donate to Covid-19 aid

Presidents at all the city’s main institutions will give a part of their salaries to fund students in need

April 24, 2020
Hong Kong
Source: Getty

Senior administrators at Hong Kong’s nine main universities are donating portions of their salaries to aid students and to seed fundraising initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic. These personal contributions come amid financial challenges for the city’s higher education institutions, which are facing calls from students for tuition refunds, decreased income due to the economic downturn and repair bills still pending from damage during anti-government protests last year.

Presidents and vice-presidents at the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Lingnan University and Open University of Hong Kong will give 10 per cent of their salary for the next 12 months.

“The outbreak of the new coronavirus has dealt a severe blow to the local economy, and some of our students and their families may have been adversely affected,” said Stephen Cheung, EdUHK president. “By donating our salaries, we hope to support student bursaries to help those in need during this difficult time.”

“The pandemic has been seriously affecting all businesses, and we are particularly concerned about the financial challenges faced by some of our students and their families due to the current situation,” said Jin-Guang Teng, PolyU president. “We hope this financial assistance scheme will help in tiding them over the difficult times.”

The HKU leadership’s donation will go to the Covid Relief Fund, which was launched 18 April and has a fundraising target of HK $10 million (£1 million).

The Chinese University of Hong Kong president, along with seven pro vice-chancellors and vice-presidents, will give 15 per cent of their monthly salaries, from May to December, to kickstart the CU Relief Fund (Cure).

Wei Shyy, president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), will seed his institution’s new Covid-19 Student Hardship Relief Fund with a donation of his April salary. “Our life has been greatly affected on multiple fronts, with some of our students having financial hardship as a result of salary cuts or job losses of their family members,” Professor Shyy said.

Way Kuo, president of City University of Hong Kong, was upfront in a letter to the university community that the institution was facing financial hardships due to drops in investment returns, international student tuition, donations and funding. He and seven other members of senior management will donate 10 per cent of their pay for eight months.

Roland Chin, president of Hong Kong Baptist University, was also clear that the institution’s budget for the next year or two would be “very tight”. He wrote in an email that “considerable expenditure will be needed to cope with the difficult situation and its aftermath”, while announcing new belt-tightening measures. “Tough times won’t last forever” he reassured. He will donate a month’s salary to emergency aid for students.

Hong Kong’s university administrators are generally well paid. The top annual salary at the elite HKU is in the range of HK $7.95 million to $8.1 million, according to its 2018/19 annual report. An analysis by the South China Morning Post found the highest annual salaries at Hong Kong universities in 2017/18 to be from HK$4.65 million to HK$7.65 million.

joyce.lau@timeshighereducation.com

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