HKUST ‘in talks’ with Imperial College London to set up third Hong Kong medical school

The medical school would be the city’s third, joining ones operated by the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and would come as the financial hub is struggling to find enough doctors.

HKUST president Professor Nancy Ip Yuk-yu earlier said the university would be collaborating with an institution in Europe to run the proposed facility.

The university aimed to establish the medical school before mid-2027 and was considering recruiting first-degree students, Ip added.

The source said a detailed proposal, covering aspects such as the number of staff needed and the reasons for setting up the new medical school, would be submitted to health minister Lo Chung-mau by the end of July.

The insider added that Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu had made no objections to the plan but would seek Lo’s opinion before deciding whether to offer his full support.

The source also said Ip had sought support from Beijing, which hopes Hong Kong can become a biomedical hub.

The insider said Queen Elizabeth Hospital, a major facility in Jordan, had spoken with HKUST about serving as a teaching hospital but further progress depended on securing approval from authorities.

HKUST has identified at least two possible sites for the medical school, with one option located next to its campus in Clear Water Bay and the second in Tseung Kwan O.

In a reply to the Post, the university said it was still in talks about the proposed medical school.

“We are continuing our discussions with the relevant bureaus and hope to move as quickly as we can because we believe this is good for both Hong Kong and the mainland,” it said.

HKUST signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Beijing Tiantan Hospital in May to “jointly nurture innovative medical talent with expertise in both research and clinical practice”.

The Health Bureau said in a statement on Monday night that it would keep an open mind towards any initiatives that could help nurture local medical students and increase the supply of healthcare-related manpower.

The bureau said it would consider a range of factors when reviewing a proposal for a medical programme, including the development needs of the healthcare system, local manpower projections, the demand and supply of teaching staff, and the relevant teaching and training facilities.

It would also make further considerations after discussions with relevant policy bureaus on the development of tertiary institutions, financial resources required and land supply for university campuses.

The programme also had to be accredited and recognised by the Medical Council of Hong Kong.

The bureau said it had been maintaining communication with HKUST regarding the plan, and had so far received a few pages and slides with an initial outline.

“The bureau has learned from HKUST that the plan is still in its planning stage, while detailed proposals are still being formulated,” it said, adding the university had not yet submitted a detailed proposal.

“It is too early to comment on the relevant plan at the current stage.”

The Post has approached Imperial College London for comment.

In January, the British university led a delegation to HKUST to discuss “strategic collaborations in academic advancement and research innovation”.

Former Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu has stressed that relying on non-local doctors to practise in Hong Kong was not a sustainable solution in the long run. Photo: Edmond So
Former Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said earlier on Monday that Hong Kong should set up its third medical school by 2027 and target first-degree holders to expand the candidate pool and help tackle a shortage of doctors.

Wu also said the city had public hospitals ready to serve as teaching sites for the new medical school, with a new institution under construction at Kai Tak being one such option.

He argued that relying on non-local doctors to practise in Hong Kong was not a sustainable solution in the long run amid a global shortage, and underscored the need to train more local practitioners as the city contended with an ageing population.

But he pointed out that the two existing medical schools had increased their annual intake to nearly 300 each, beyond optimal levels of about 200.

“There is a need to establish a third one targeting students with a first degree to recruit the best people from the world,” Wu said.

Wu said a graduate-entry approach would also prevent the new institution from competing with the other medical schools for students sitting the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, the city’s university entrance assessment.

The new school could recruit 50 students in its first year, before gradually increasing its annual intake, he said, adding that he hoped it would not only train fresh doctors but also those interested in pursuing scientific research.

Alongside HKUST, Polytechnic University and Baptist University have both indicated their interest in establishing a medical school, with HKUST widely regarded as a front runner because of its more concrete proposal.

Additional reporting by Jeffie Lam and Oscar Liu


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