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[Archive] Compulsory retirement plan of the HKIE

LEGCO QUESTION NO.5(ORAL REPLY)

 

Date of sitting : 7.11.2001



Asked by : Hon Szeto Wah

Replied by : SEM

Question :

Regarding the implementation of the early retirement scheme in the Hong Kong Institute of Education, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the details of the processes involved in the formulation of the scheme, including the means of consultation with the staff of the Institute and the roles played by the relevant Bureau and government departments in the processes;

  2. of the respective establishment of lecturers in each academic department of the Institute as at 23 October this year, the numbers of lecturers on contract and pensionable terms in the respective establishment, the numbers of lecturers who joined and those who left the department in the past three years; as well as the long-term development needs of the various departments and whether, in determining these needs, consultation with the staff has been included; and

  3. whether it knows if the Institute has assessed if it is a feasible arrangement to first allow the staff to express their interest in participating in the scheme on their own initiative and then let the management select which of them should retire early, and the impact of the scheme, upon implementation, on the image of the Institute, the morale of lecturers, the interests of students and the quality of teaching; if it has, of the results of the assessment; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

Madam President,

The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) is one of the eight higher education institutions funded by the University Grant Committee (UGC). As with other UGC-funded institutions, HKIEd enjoys academic and institutional autonomy and the Administration does not interfere with its management.

During HKIEd's design and implementation of its Management-initiated Retirement Scheme (MIRS), HKIEd has sought the Administration's advice regarding pension arrangements for staff who are ex-civil servants transferred from the former Colleges of Education to the HKIEd when the latter was established in 1994. With the UGC Secretariat's coordination, the Education and Manpower Bureau, Civil Service Bureau, Finance Bureau, the Treasury and Education Department have provided input regarding pension, financial and accounting arrangements.

The Administration supports in principle the HKIEd's initiative to upgrade itself, through the implementation of an MIRS, to meet the requirements to confer degrees. The design and implementation of the retirement scheme are entirely matters for the management of the HKIEd. Based on the information provided by HKIEd, I would like to respond to the Hon Szeto Wah's enquiries as follows.

  1. HKIEd has been aware for a few years of overstaffing in certain teaching areas and understaffing in others, which has posed a constraint on the Institute in making teaching arrangements. As society's expectations of the quality of education rises, and to meet the target that by 2004/05, all primary and secondary teacher training graduates will be degree holders, the Institute's Council began consideration of an early retirement scheme in 1999. The Institute initially considered the possibility of a voluntary Induced Early Retirement Scheme (IERS), and held numerous discussions with the Association of Lecturers of the HKIEd (AL) and open forums with staff.

    In early 2001, the Institute decided to implement a management initiated retirement scheme (MIRS) because only through this scheme can it ensure that the appropriate staff members will retire early and that staff transferred from the former Colleges of Education who may be retired can gain immediate pension. In early March 2001, the Institute management discussed with staff and the AL on the MIRS. An open staff forum was held, at which initial thoughts on the possible criteria and procedures for a MIRS were discussed. Emails were also sent to all staff members to solicit their views on the MIRS.

    In June, the Staffing Committee of the HKIEd Council met twice to consider the proposal to implement the MIRS. The Staffing Committee took into account the future development of the Institute and the views of staff and the AL. In early July 2001, the HKIEd Council held a special meeting to consider the MIRS, and resolved to implement the Scheme. Staff members are represented on both the HKIEd Council and the Staffing Committee.

    The Government and UGC formally accepted the financial commitments of the scheme in early August. All staff were immediately given full details of the scheme. When the detailed financial arrangements were confirmed in mid-September, the Institute began to inform individuals who had been provisionally identified for early retirement. The timing was designed to avoid a situation of continued anxiety and uncertainty for all staff for a prolonged period. On 21 September, the Director of HKIEd further announced that all who had been provisionally identified had been informed.


  2. There are a total of 15 academic departments and centres, with strength ranging from 1 to 65 as at 23 October 2001, adding to a total of 380. Of these, 144 are contract staff and 236 are transferred and superannuable staff. A total of 6, 11 and 7 academic staff members joined, and 11, 8 and 5 left HKIEd in the 1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 academic years respectively.

    The long-term academic development needs of the Institute were formulated in consultation with individual departments/schools within the Institute, involving academic staff and subsequently agreed with the UGC.

  3. In deciding to adopt a management-initiated retirement scheme, HKIEd has carefully considered the impact of implementation of the scheme on the future development of the Institute, staff morale, the interests of students and the quality of teaching etc. The HKIEd management has been maintaining dialogue with the staff and AL in order to minimise any negative impact. Indeed, as proposed by staff, HKIEd has engaged a human resources consultant to help implement the scheme, and has been according priority to safeguarding the interests of students and the staff members concerned. The HKIEd Council unanimously decided on 31 October 2001 that the MIRS should continue to be implemented, and that a working group comprising a non-staff Council Member as Chairman, two members of the management, and the President and Vice President of the AL should be set up to help make the best possible exit arrangements for the retiring staff, and to assist them in seeking alternative employment.