For discussion EC(96-97)40
on 6 November 1996


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee -

  1. the creation of the following permanent post in the Student Financial Assistance Agency with effect from 1 December 1996 -

    1 Senior Principal Executive Officer
    (D2)($102,900 - $109,250)

    to be offset by the deletion of the following permanent post -

    1 Principal Executive Officer
    (D1)($86,650 - $91,950)

  2. an increase by $90,360 in the ceiling placed on the total notional annual mid-point salary value of all non-directorate posts in the permanent establishment of the Student Financial Assistance Agency in 1996-97 from $36,931,000 to $37,021,360 for upgrading one post of Personal Secretary II to Personal Secretary I.


The rank of the Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency (C, SFAA) post does not reflect adequately its level of responsibilities.


2. The Secretary for Education and Manpower (SEM) proposes to upgrade the post of C, SFAA from Principal Executive Officer (PEO)(D1) to Senior Principal Executive Officer (SPEO)(D2).


3. We pitched the C, SFAA post at the PEO level when we established the Agency in 1990. Since then, the workload, complexity and level of responsibilities of the post have increased substantially as a result of rapid expansion of the activities of the Agency, devolution of authority to heads of departments/agencies in the management of resources, review of the various student financial assistance schemes in response to changing needs and priorities, and introduction of management initiatives as part of Government’s public sector reform programme. The duties and responsibilities of the C, SFAA post are at Enclosure 1. An organisation chart of the Agency is at Enclosure 2.

4. The substantial increase in the number of applications received and the amount of funds managed by the Agency in respect of the following schemes illustrates the significant growth in the Agency’s activities -



% increase

Local Student Finance Scheme

no. of applications received

10 555

40 860


funds disbursed* ($ million)



1 122%

Kindergarten Fee Remission Scheme

no. of applications received

7 555

50 115


funds disbursed ($ million)



1 516%

School Textbook Assistance Scheme

no. of applications received

92 556

141 248


funds disbursed ($ million)




Senior Secondary Fee Remission Scheme

no. of applications received

39 314

85 263


funds remitted ($ million)




* including grants and loans

Expenditure under Head 173 Student Financial Assistance Agency has increased from $349.3 million in the 1990-91 financial year to $1,428.1 million in 1995-96, representing an increase of 309%. If we take into account the amount of student loans disbursed by the Agency, the increase would be 435%.

5. As head of the Agency, C,SFAA needs to review regularly the Agency’s policy objectives on human resources management and to formulate departmental manpower strategy and action plans to cope with the new and additional demands arising from the Agency’s sharply increased activities. In this respect, the Agency has increased its establishment by 79.3% from 87 in 1990-91 to 156 in 1996-97 to meet the increase in workload. We have also earmarked provision for the creation of a further 24 additional posts in 1997-98; the establishment of the Agency will increase to 180 in 1997-98, representing an increase of 107% when compared with that of 1990-91.

6. Besides, C, SFAA has to initiate comprehensive reviews of schemes under his purview to ensure that they provide appropriate assistance to needy students in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Such reviews include consultancy studies on the Local Student Finance Scheme for tertiary students, regular surveys on rates of subsidies on purchase of textbooks and stationery by parents, and studies on student travel patterns and expenditure for assessment of student travel subsidies. These reviews have resulted in improvement initiatives to increase the range and real value of the assistance provided, simplified procedures and increased productivity. They have added to the magnitude and complexity of the C, SFAA’s job which requires strong leadership qualities, broad vision and wide management experience. C,SFAA also has to attend public forums and meetings of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council’s Public Accounts Committee, Finance Committee, and Panel on Education to explain and answer questions related to the policy and practical aspects of student financial assistance schemes administered by the Agency.

7. C, SFAA plays an important role in developing a customer-focused quality service culture in the Agency, and providing timely assistance to the needy students. This requires the development of mission and vision for the Agency, the issue of performance pledges for the various schemes, the provision of public access to information held by the Agency and the setting up of Customer Liaison Groups to improve communications and service delivery. These new tasks require leadership in setting new direction and standards for meeting Government’s management requirements, in gaining the acceptance and commitment of staff to these reforms, and in meeting the students’ needs and expectations.

8. In view of the complexity and magnitude of the responsibilities required of C,SFAA in administering the Agency and the various student financial assistance schemes under its control, and the leadership required, SEM considers it necessary to upgrade the post of C, SFAA to SPEO. In addition, the proposal will necessitate the upgrading of one post of Personal Secretary II to Personal Secretary I.


9. The additional notional annual salary cost at mid-point and the full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-costs, are -

Notional Annual Salary Cost at Mid-Point

Full Annual Average Staff

No. of Posts

New permanent posts





Permanent posts deleted







We have not included provision in the 1996-97 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal, which is estimated at $100,000 for the remaining four months of 1996-97. If Members approve this proposal, we shall approve under delegated authority supplementary provision required under Head 173 Student Financial Assistance Agency Subhead 001 Salaries. We shall include sufficient provision in the 1997-98 draft Estimates for this purpose.


10. We created the C, SFAA post in July 1990 to head the SFAA which was formed by amalgamating different units of the Education Department (ED) and the Education and Manpower Branch (EMB). The SFAA took over from ED and EMB the operation of all student financial assistance schemes, except the Kindergarten Fee Remission Scheme (KGFR). We subsequently transferred the responsibility for the operation of KGFR from ED to SFAA in 1992-93.


11. The Civil Service Branch considers the upgrading of the post appropriate, having regard to the increased responsibilities and complexities of the post.


12. The Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service has advised that the grading proposed for the post would be appropriate if the post were to be created.

Education and Manpower Branch
October 1996

Enclosure 1 to EC(96-97)40

Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency (to be upgraded from PEO (D1) to SPEO (D2))

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Responsible to the Secretary for Education and Manpower for -

  1. advising the Education and Manpower Branch on matters relating to the formulation of policies governing the student financial assistance schemes;
  2. comparing and contrasting various student financial assistance schemes so as to formulate an overall, rational and consistent strategy governing student finance;
  3. keeping the student financial assistance schemes under constant review, with a view to ensuring that appropriate assistance is provided to students and their parents through these schemes in the most efficient and cost-effective manner;
  4. liaising with and consulting the education institutions, student bodies and various advisory committees to effect improvements and changes to the schemes;
  5. overseeing the operation of the student financial assistance schemes in areas such as setting targets and time schedules, deployment of resources, monitoring progress and results, staff and office management, etc.;
  6. ensuring that funds are properly disbursed;
  7. formulating guidelines, procedures, regulations and rules for the operation of the schemes;
  8. servicing the various executive and advisory committees and councils of the student financial assistance schemes and advising the Government on the appointment of members to these bodies; and
  9. attending meetings of the Executive Council and the Finance Committee, Panel on Education and Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Council on student finance matters.

Last Updated on 12 August 1999