Maintaining a balanced budget and strengthening financial sustainability to deploy resources to areas of strategic priority are the prime financial management objectives of the University. The University fulfilled these objectives over the past years through robust cost controls and an effective and flexible fund allocation mechanism. Our operating activities were mainly financed by a combination of tuition fee income, ad hoc grants from the Government, and philanthropic contributions from the community. We managed our resources prudently and efficiently, while our business stayed sensitive and adaptable to changing environments. We also made conscious decisions and took timely actions to capitalize on market opportunities, enhance our facilities, and boost our capacity for future development.
Student enrolments during the year totalled around 19,500. There was a slight decrease in the number of part-time students. To meet the changing needs of learners, the University has enriched its programme offerings and educational resources, and substantially improved its provision of physical facilities to strengthen teaching and learning support. Keeping open access and the interest of students at heart, we maintained our tuition fees at reasonable, affordable and yet competitive levels, without compromising the quality of our teaching and learning.
The fee income of the OUHK (Group) for the year amounted to HK$1,185.5 million, an increase of 17.1% on the previous year’s figure of HK$1,012.1 million. The rise was mainly due to a mild increase in tuition fees and higher enrolment numbers for our face-to-face programmes.
The OUHK (Group) spent a total of HK$968.8 million in the year, compared with HK$922.8 million in 2017–18. The increase was mainly due to a slight increase in staff costs, the allocation of more resources to deliver better quality academic programmes, and the enhancement of support services.
Interest and investment income
The volatile financial market in the year put pressure on the University’s investment portfolios and hence affected returns. The University has reviewed its investment strategy and guidelines from a risk management perspective. The review confirmed that its long-term perspective will continue to be to diversify its portfolio in order to manage risk and volatility. In the year, the OUHK (Group) recorded a gain of HK$56.8 million in interest and investment income.
Donations and matching grants
The University received matching grants of HK$34.8 million under the Government’s Seventh Matching Grant Scheme, as a result of a total of HK$76.1 million that we received in eligible donations from a number of alumni, students, staff and friends in the community.
During the year, the University received donations amounting to HK$14.3 million for student scholarships and bursaries from various philanthropists, corporations, charitable foundations and friends.
The University’s subsidiary in Shenzhen achieved a profit after tax of HK$9.0 million for the year, compared with HK$7.1 million in the previous year. The subsidiary’s good financial performance was mainly due to an increase in enrolment in programmes offered with mainland partners.
Overall financial performance for the year, and funds and reserves
The OUHK (Group) recorded an overall surplus of HK$331.7 million in 2018–19, compared with HK$309.4 million in the previous year. As at 31 March 2019, the University’s total funds and reserves stood at HK$3,226.4 million, an increase of HK$331.7 million over the previous year.
The OUHK provides two retirement schemes to staff, namely the Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) Scheme and the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Scheme. At year-end, the ORSO scheme had 557 members and the MPF scheme had 1,568 members. Their respective fund sizes were HK$475.1 million and HK$85.4 million.
Development of the new Institute of Healthcare
The Institute of Healthcare is making steady progress and is scheduled for completion in 2020. The new Institute will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, providing students with an environment conducive for learning and the exchange of ideas. It is expected that about 2,800 students will benefit from the new learning facilities upon completion. In addition to nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals, the new Institute will also act as a hub for developing community initiatives in support of the well-being of the general public.
The total project development cost is estimated to be about HK$850 million. With support from the Education Bureau, the University secured an interest-free start up loan of HK$400 million from the Government for the project. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust also approved a grant of up to HK$281 million to support part of the construction cost. The University is grateful to a number of long-standing supporters for their generous donations to the project.
The University will continue to implement prudent financial management practices and apply a risk management approach to its resource management. There is also good potential for it to ride on new technologies to achieve further operational efficiency in its use of resources. Quality of education is always at the very centre of our work. An additional injection of HK$150.4 million will be provided to expand the scope and coverage of the Quality Enhancement Measures (QEM) that have already been implemented to improve the staff to student ratio, student services, student activities, student support services, and the necessary facilities. This will bring the QEM funds to a total of HK$247.9 million.
The year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the University. Looking forward, the University will leverage its strengths of innovation, flexibility and relevance to set its eyes on areas beyond Hong Kong. As highlighted by the tagline of the University’s 2019–2023 Strategic Plan, we are now financially well prepared to ‘Strive to Nurture and transform the Future’.