Growing anger over mainland students in HK

Growing anger over mainland students in HK

"They grab degrees, they grab jobs! The government allows them in - but did it ask us first?"

So says an advertisement in the Apple Daily newspaper two weeks ago, expressing the outrage of Hong Kongers who oppose the "mainlandisation" of the city's universities.

This initiative - a year after an infamous ad likened mainland Chinese in Hong Kong to locusts gobbling up its resources - comes amid a spurt in the number of mainland students in the city over the past decade.

The resentment comes despite the fact that mainland students are still vastly outnumbered.

There are 10,963 of them in Hong Kong's eight government-funded universities - about six times the number in 2001, when there were just 1,912.

By contrast, the number of Hong Kong students dipped for a few years before rising to 80,273 today, slightly higher than the 76,659 in 2001.

"I've heard local students say that it has become more and more difficult to apply for graduate school, hostel spaces and exchange programmes - and even to find a seat in the library," Steve, the campaign organiser, told The Straits Times. "Why? Because mainland students are swamping our universities."

Steve, who works in a university, revealed only his first name.

To date, the campaign which started in March has raised HK$52,553 (S$8,600) in donations while its Facebook page has received 2,706 likes. Steve said he hopes it will pressurise the government to roll back its policies on allowing mainland students to come to Hong Kong.

Before, they were admitted only as part of joint programmes with mainland universities. But in 2003, Hong Kong universities were allowed to independently enrol mainland students.

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