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No. 14 19 April 2004


Proposed budget allocations 2004-05
The Management Board on 16 April agreed to recommend the proposed allocations for 2004-05 for the Council's approval via the Finance Committee. Budgets for 2004-05, it has recommended, will be distributed based on the 2003-04 original level, with a number of adjustments:

  • a reduction of teaching budgets because of the conversion of some UGC-funded programmes to self-financing mode in 2004-05;

  • an adjustment of departmental budgets in line with the Civil Service salary cut (3% plus 3% in January 2004 and January 2005 respectively);

  • a 2% overall reduction in departmental budgets (academic departments offset by 2% Research Assessment Exercise reinforcements); and

  • a 5% to 20% cut in institutional budgets.

The Board also recommended some budget policy changes, one of which is that budget controllers are allowed to carry forward all unspent balances in their institutional budgets at 30 June 2004 to 2004-05. Existing arrangements for departmental budgets however remain unchanged, ie. departments are allowed to carry forward their unspent funds to 2004-05.


CityU-PolyU collaboration
The two universities have started talking about deep collaboration in early March, according to Prof H K Chang, President. A working group co-chaired by the deputy president of each institution will look into possible areas of collaboration, in the first instance, as pilot tests. Four sub-groups, two on academic areas, two on non-academic, have been impanelled for some preliminary findings by early May. CityU and PolyU, the President said in the February issue of Linkage, have a lot in common, or "complementariness" in terms of our history, physical location, current academic strengths and applied focus. In the short term, Prof Chang said, we have to find out if there are new or synergistic initiatives that could provide better educational quality and value to the community¡Xnew or joint taught postgraduate programmes, for example. These initiatives, he hopes, would be eligible for some support from a special fund the University Grants Committee has recently set up to promote collaboration.


New salary proposals
The Management Board on 16 April agreed to recommend the new salary scales and pay raise system for Council's approval via the Staffing and Conditions of Service Committee, effective 1 July 2004. The proposal to create the titles of Senior Instructor I and II, however, will be revised. In the 14 April Open Forum on the issues, organized by the Human Resources Office, staff members urged the University to set up "clear" and "transparent" guidelines for the implementation of the merit-based pay-raise system. In the current proposals, a new pay raise system will be introduced on 1 July 2004, based on the budgetary situation of the University and taking into account "good" and "outstanding" performance of the staff. Half or one increment of the salary scale may be awarded. Staff members would like to see a clearer definition of what "good" and "outstanding" means for different ranks and grades of staff.


Departure scheme
A total of 105 applications have been approved. The University is expected to fork out a total of HK$56 million in ex-gratia payments, using central fund. Departments will have to pay for staff members' untaken leave. The University is expected to achieve budget savings from the departures within a period of two years.


Accommodation on campus
To help redress the current imbalance between academic and residential accommodation on campus, the Management Board on 15 March resolved to convert Floor 3 of Cheng Yick Chi Building into classrooms to meet the demand for larger classrooms, in anticipation of a changing landscape in self-financing programmes. It also decided to convert the postgraduate students and senior staff quarters in To Yuen Building into offices. Minimum structural changes will be carried out to allow them to be restored to their original purpose, if need be. The cost for conversion will be significantly lower than the current cost of renting offices in Festival Walk.


Leasing of staff quarters
The University will partner with commercial property agencies to lease vacant quarters to non-university personnel, subject to approval of the District Lands Office. This is necessary as the number of vacant quarters is likely to increase due to decreased demand. Fewer new staff eligible for housing benefits will join the University, while some existing staff will leave at the end of their service. More eligible staff in the past few years have opted to purchase their own property instead of renting. The Value for Money Audit Reports of the Audit Commission in 2003 highlighted that UGC-funded institutions should consider partnering with property agencies to lease out vacant quarters more efficiently.


New PTA and HFA rates
In line with the Civil Service reviews, the rates of Private Tenancy Allowance (PTA) and Home Financing Allowance (HFA), effective 1 April 2004, will be revised downward by 12.5% to 15% for PTA and downward by 12.1% to 12.2% for HFA.


Matching Grant Scheme
The University has fully matched the "floor" amount of HK$45 million stipulated by the University Grants Committee. A major portion of the donations and the Matching Grant were secured by the Faculty of Science and Engineering.


Dr Xue Quan , Associate Professor of the Department of Electronic Engineering, has been appointed Principal Technological Specialist of the State 863 IC Design Base, Chengdu Sub-base, under China's Ministry of Science and Technology, effective from April 2004 to April 2006.

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