THE NUMBER of universities in Hong Kong will have risen from two to seven in just ten years with the recent upgrading of the Open Learning Institute.
A government spokesman said that the awarding of the university title to the institute, which will be known as the Open University of Hong Kong, was a logical step after the institute was awarded self-accrediting status in October last year.
Two former polytechnics and the Hong Kong Baptist College also received university titles soon after they were given self-accrediting status with the approval of the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation.
Tam Sheung-wai, institute director, said students would now "have better prospects seeking jobs because of higher recognition from society".
Employers felt the institute was "inferior" to other institutions, despite offering degree programmes. "Now we are delighted to have our status upgraded," he said.
The Open University will revise its governance structure to bring it into line with Hong Kong's other universities. This restructuring will include a move to three separate governing and advisory bodies - a court as the top advisory body, a council as the ultimate governing body and a senate as the top academic body.
Andrew Wong Lap-sang, associate director, said the institute would also change its academic outlook. As well as producing more home-grown Chinese-medium course materials for courses, it would launch postgraduate programmes and expand research output, he said.
This year more than 20,000 students are taking courses at the institute. Professor Tam said he hoped the university status would encourage even more students.