Time: 9:00 p.m. Feb 1 (Fri) 2013

Venue: Common Room of PGH 1

Present:     Prof. P. C. Shaw (Chairman)

         Prof. Clement So

         Ms. Joni Wong

         Ms. Karen Hsi (Recorder)

         63 residents (including representatives from PGH, CUPSA and CSSA)

Background

The Chairman introduced that the purpose of the meeting was to 1) collect residents’ views on the rent increase of 2013-14 and 2) discuss the findings of the recent survey concerning PGH living conditions and hostel activities.

 

Content

  1. 1.     Principle of Budgeting

The Chairman explained that the Bursary, based on various factors including inflation rate, salary increase, cost of repair and maintenance, various costs and reserves, would suggest the rate of rent increase every year.  Specific items and figures of the budget for 2013-14 were introduced through ppt. slides as follows:

  1. 2.     Reserves

2.1.  Provision for Major Renovation Reserve

   The UGC no longer provides any subsidy for major renovation of student hostels.  In 2009, the Campus Development Office had revised the cap from $15 million to $21 million for major renovation of a 300-place student hostel due to inflation.  This will add immense pressure on the increase of the hostel fees.

   As PGH has about 1,100 places, it means nearly $80 million reserve has to be saved.  We have had about $50 million so far and have to continue to save for the reserve gradually.  

2.2.  Provision for Planned Preventive Maintenance Reserve

   Planned Preventive Maintenance is a statutory requirement and all hostels have to build up reserves for this cost.

   As EMO evaluation, planned preventive maintenance is required every 5 to15 years to meet government building maintenance requirements on buildings over 30 years old.

2.2.1.     Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme (MBIS)

Under the MBIS, owners of buildings aged 30 years or above will be required to carry out inspections (and, if necessary, repair works) of the common parts, external walls and projections of the buildings once every 10 years.

2.2.2.     Mandatory Window Inspection Scheme (MWIS)

Under the MWIS, owners of buildings aged 10 years or above are required to carry out inspections (and, if necessary, repair works) of all windows of the buildings once every 5 years.

2.2.3.     Periodic inspection, Testing and Certification (PITC) for Fixed Electrical Installations:

Pursuant to the Electricity (Wiring) Regulations, owners of electrical installations shall have their installations inspected, tested and certified periodically.  For typical residential or commercial premises, electrical installations with an approved loading exceeding 100 amperes shall be inspected, tested and certified at least once every 5 years.

The expenditure on the Provision for Planned Preventive Maintenance Reserve in 2013-14 is $810,000.

2.3. Provision for IT Network Reserve

   As per ITSC evaluations, annual cost of $576 per hostel place is required for providing IT

 networking service to students in hostel.

 The estimated provision for IT Network Reserve in 2013-14 is $637,000.

  1. 3.     Loan Repayment

   The outstanding loan balance of PGH1 as on 1 July 2012 was HK$35M. It is expected to finish paying the entire loan back in 2018.

  1. 4.     Proposed Percentage of Rent Increase in 2013-14

The Bursary proposed to have 8% of rent increase

-to repair the walls, replace old furniture, repair building façade, conduct waterproofing and all kinds of repairing works.

-to build up the reserves such as major renovation, preventive maintenance and IT network to meet the statutory requirements.

-The Bursary proposed to have 8% rent increase in both PGH and other undergraduate hostels.

  1. 5.     Planned Additional Maintenance

   -Replace old furniture in PGH such as washing basin cabinets (PGH1), wardrobes, beds, mattress, curtains, screen windows.

-Repaint the walls of some residents’ rooms and communal areas which are in bad condition.

-Replace water pipes of some bathrooms.

  1. 6.     Financial Statement and Budget

    Comparing the total expenditure of 2011/12 ($23,477,413) and the likely out-turn 2012/13 ($27,561,500), there is an increase of 17.4%.  The expenditure on electricity has increased about 8%, from $1,878,613 to $2,020,000.

  1. 7.     Survey on Views of PGH Residents

7.1.  The Chairman introduced the findings of the survey as follows.  A total of 1,096 questionnaires were distributed to the residents of the six Postgraduate Halls.  173 questionnaires were returned and the response rate was 15.8%.  The response rate was rather low and it could serve as a reference only.  

7.2.  For the condition of their rooms, 12.7% chose “very satisfied”, 52.6% chose “satisfied”, 28.3% chose “so so”, 2.9% chose “dissatisfied”, 1. 2% chose “very dissatisfied” and 2.3% did not answer.

7.3.  For the condition of communal areas and facilities, 11.6% chose “very satisfied”, 45. 1% chose “satisfied”, 26.0% chose “so so”, 8.7% chose “dissatisfied”, no one chose “very dissatisfied” and 8.7% did not answer.

7.4.  For the surrounding environment of the hostel, 19.1% chose “very satisfied”, 54.9% chose “satisfied”, 16. 8% chose “so so”, 2.3% chose “dissatisfied”, 0. 6% chose “very dissatisfied” and 6. 4% did not answer. 

7.5.  For the hostel activities, 6.9% chose “very satisfied”, 45.1% chose “satisfied”, 33.5% chose “so so”, 4.0% chose “dissatisfied”, 2.3% chose “very dissatisfied” and 8.1% did not answer.

7.6.  For improving the condition of individual resident’ rooms, around 15% need repainting of walls, replacing of wardrobes, beds and washing basins, while about 40% need replacing room curtains.  PGH will contact the residents who need repairing works and arrange working time individually.

7.7.  Residents are encouraged to write their repairing requests concerning their rooms or communal areas in the log book of PGH1, 2 and 4 Offices and express their views in person, by phone or through email at enquiry@pgh.cuhk.edu.hk .

7.8.  Some residents said the locks were old.  PGH2 will replace existing locks with digital locks in early 2013.  PGH will observe the performance and then consider if other hostels will have their locks replaced.

7.9.  Residents from PGH4-6 requested to have more vending machines with octopus function.  PGH have made preliminary agreement with the vendors and they will insert octopus function on the soft drink vending machine and install one more soft drink vending machine near the recycling material collection point in early 2013.

7.10.  Some residents suggested to have more outings and sports programmes.  PGH and PGHRAs will take note of this and try to organize more activities of these kinds.

7.11.                Some residents in PGH1 requested to have Sunday bus passing PGH1.  PGH will make the request to the Transport Unit again.

7.12.  For the fixed telephone line, 74.6% stated they never use fixed line telephone in their rooms, while about 20% indicated they use fix line telephones at various frequencies.

  1. 8.     Questions Raised from Residents

8.1.  It cost about $1M for adding 30 beds in summer.  Why is it so expensive to have a bed for about $30,000?  What is the system of tendering or purchasing procedure? 

8.2.  The general inflation rate in Hong Kong was 3.7% to 3.8% in the previous months only.  However, PGH had the rent increase of 8% last year and are now suggesting increasing 8% again in 2013-14.  It is much higher than the general inflation in Hong Kong.  The University should not follow the example of the property developers to exploit the residents.

8.3.  The response of the survey was low and it cannot be used as an indicator to project the need of repair and maintenance. If residents know it will be used as a reference for increasing the rent, the response will be different. 

8.4.  PGH has increased rent through these years but the condition has not improved.  A resident said his bed was not replaced in these three years and he saw no point for paying for those who required replacing their beds.

8.5.  The detail breakdown of the expenditure on Repairs and Maintenance is needed.

8.6.  Studentship was raised about 6% in 2010-11 only.  But PGH has increased the rent at 4%, 5% and 8% from 2009-2012.  Residents have to face both general inflation and the additional rent increase of PGH.  

8.7.  Some residents suggested to cut the fixed telephone lines to save $400,000 due to low using rate.

8.8.  Some residents required to have a meeting with Bursary and EMO to clarify the financial figures and reasons for high cost of repairing works.

8.9.  A resident suggested it was not fair for them to pay the loan while the residents after 2018 need not to do so.

8.10.  The statutory requirements such as preventive maintenance applies to all buildings and hostels, and so do the rising cost of building and repairing works.  But why other universities such as Polytechnic University do not raise the rent in 2013-14?

8.11.  Some residents stated it was unfair to have only one CUPSA member in the Committee on Postgraduate Student Housing Committee among more than ten professors.  Under the rule of majority vote, students’ voice of opposition cannot be heard.  Last year, CUPSA made a survey, over 96% of the respondents opposed the rent increase at 8% and the representative casted against vote but the rent was increased at 8% finally.  The professors do not live in hostels and why they have the authority to vote for all residents.

8.12.  A resident suggested PGH need not spend a lot on repair and maintenance, residents who made damage on their rooms should pay for it.  PGH staff should check their rooms and require them to pay for the damages when they check out.

8.13.  Some residents suggested to make a survey to collect residents’ opinions on rent increase or delegate CUPSA to collect the opinions concerning rent increase and repair and maintenance..

8.14.     Some residents suggested to have a change in PGH Management so that the money can be used more efficiently and effectively.

8.15.               Some residents asked about the procedure of the consultation process concerning rent increase.

  1. 9.     Ad hoc Response from Wardens

9.1.  It is clarified that this meeting is a consultation meeting, to collect residents’ opinions, not a meeting for providing solution or final result.

9.2.  The studentship of postgraduate students may have a slight increase in 2013-14 but the final result is to be confirmed by the Graduate School.

9.3.  Prof. So explained that buildings depreciate through years. Rent collected is to pay for all costs related to general inflation as well as to build up the reserve for repair and maintenance.  Thus the rate of rent increase must be higher than general inflation.  Otherwise all the repairing works cannot be done. The cost of adding bed included all the cabling works, which were very costly.

9.4.  The survey and rent increase do not have a direct connection.  PGH also observe the         poor condition of some rooms during smart card checking.  Repairing works have to be             done to keep the hostel in an acceptable condition.

9.5.  The procedure of the consultation process concerning rent increase is as follows: PGH have consultation meetings with residents like today to collect residents’ opinions, then the proposed rate will be forwarded to the Management Committee of the Postgraduate Halls for approval, the approved rate will be forwarded to the Committee on Postgraduate Students Housing for endorsement, then pass to Resource Allocation Committee for approval.  Tonight’s consultation meeting is only the first step.

9.6. PGH will try to contact Bursary and EMO and invite their representatives to meet residents to make clarification in next consultation meeting in late February.

9.7. Chairman summed up residents’ enquiries over the justification on the 8% rent increase in 2013-14, the possibility of lowering the rate, the detailed breakdown of the expenditure on repair and maintenance.

  1. 10.  Any Other Business

There was being no other business, the meeting was adjourned at 11: 00p.m.


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