The decision to close a tertiary creative-writing programme has come amid efforts to keep the curriculum profitable and alive, its founder has said.
Author Xu Xi founded a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programme in creative writing at City University (CityU) in 2010, but the university says the programme was closed because "it recruited [fewer] than 18 students in each of the last two years" out of an annual admission quota of 30, and "has accumulated a large deficit over the years".
Xu doesn't agree. "In my proposal back in 2009 that CityU contracted me to prepare for an MFA [programme], I recommended a target cohort of no more than 20, but the university insisted on 30 at a lower tuition rate."
The fact that the tuition fee had been raised twice since 2010 - from HK$3,180 to HK$4,030 per credit, and 45 credits needed to graduate - was also a reason the programme did not make the annual quota of 30, she said.
An English department proposal to end the programme said that since 2010, it had run up a total deficit of HK$1.6 million, including a major loss of HK$993,000 in 2012-13 incurred in part by "an unanticipated charge by the finance office for two years of venue use".
A small profit of HK$440,000 is anticipated for 2014-2015, but the financial office says that "the programme is no longer viable financially".
The programme was cancelled on March 24, but the decision did not reach the staff and students until April 27, causing an outcry among students. Yesterday, 97 of them signed a petition asking senior management to reconsider the decision and to have a dialogue.
"What is really so sad is that we are at the forefront of shaping the future of the Asian literature. So to stop it now is really shortsighted," said Danielle Van-De-Broucke, a student from England.