Mr Kevin Yeung
Secretary for Education
Dear Secondary Six students, the results of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination, which serve as testimony to your years of hard work, will be released this Wednesday. Though the prevailing epidemic has caused the postponement of this year’s HKDSE Examination, with your resilience in the face of adversity and steadfast determination in fighting the virus, you made it! I would like to extend my best wishes to you all as you move on to the next stage in life.
Adequate local articulation places
As always, the Government strives to nurture young people and is committed to providing flexible and diversified progression pathways with multiple entry and exit points for secondary school graduates. In the 2020/21 academic year, higher education institutions will provide a total of about 52 600 places for full-time locally-accredited post-secondary programmes, which is sufficient to satisfy the articulation needs of this cohort of about 44 600 day school HKDSE candidates. So candidates need not worry too much. As long as they choose a suitable pathway according to their interests and abilities, they can excel and shine in different fields.
Our society needs a diversity of talents for the rapidly evolving world. In view of the importance attached to STEM disciplines by society, local higher education institutions have stepped up their provision of cross-disciplinary programmes in STEM, such as undergraduate programmes in Artificial Intelligence, Financial Technology, and Global Health and Development, starting from the 2019/20 academic year. In recent years, some institutions have also offered undergraduate programmes in non-mainstream disciplines, enabling secondary school graduates with different talents to receive university education by dint of outstanding non-academic achievements. One good example is a new Bachelor of Fine Arts programme majoring in performing arts offered by a university.
Self-financing post-secondary programmes and subsidy schemes
Both University Grants Committee-funded universities and self-financing post-secondary institutions are good choices. Students may choose to pursue publicly-funded or self-financing post-secondary programmes according to their own interests and abilities. Self-financing post-secondary programmes also lead to recognised qualifications and there are clear progression pathways to help young people aspiring to pursue further studies obtain higher qualifications step by step.
To support students in their pursuit of self-financing post-secondary programmes, a non-means-tested subsidy is provided for students who have attained “3322” or above in the HKDSE Examination and are enrolled in self-financing undergraduate programmes offered by eligible institutions. In the 2020/21 academic year, the annual subsidy amount of the Non-means-tested Subsidy Scheme for Self-financing Undergraduate Studies in Hong Kong will be increased to $32,100 per student.
Promoting vocational and professional education and training (VPET)
VPET programmes can reach degree level, focusing on vocational skills and professional knowledge in areas such as Architecture and Town Planning, Engineering and Technology, and Health Sciences. The Government places great emphasis on VPET, with a view to broadening the learning opportunities for young people and nurturing the human capital needed for Hong Kong’s sustainable development.
In particular, the Government provides a subsidy for about 3 000 students per cohort to pursue designated self-financing undergraduate programmes in the 10 disciplines related to industries with a keen demand for manpower and about 2 000 students per cohort to pursue designated sub-degree programmes in selected disciplines through the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors. As programmes under this Scheme aim to meet the manpower needs of Hong Kong, the prospects and employment opportunities of their graduates are promising. With an aging population and the emergence of new epidemics such as COVID-19, the demand for public health professionals is constantly on the rise. For students aspiring to develop a healthcare career, there are a number of relevant programmes under the Scheme for them to choose from.
The Government has been making dedicated efforts to promote VPET. Since the 2019/20 academic year, the Training and Support Scheme run by the Vocational Training Council has been regularised to incentivise more trainees to join industries that require specialised skills under the “Earn and Learn” model. Furthermore, we have launched a new publicity campaign online under the theme of “My Superpower” to encourage students to put their interests and abilities first when choosing their progression pathways, and to consider pursuing VPET for exploring their potential and giving full play to their “superpowers”.
Further studies on the Mainland and overseas
In addition to local undergraduate, VPET and Diploma Yi Jin programmes, some students may choose to pursue their studies on the Mainland or overseas. For the 2020/21 academic year, there are altogether 122 participating Mainland higher education institutions under the Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions, 11 more than the previous year, adding diversity to the progression pathways for Hong Kong students and providing opportunities for them to connect with the development of our country.
A word of encouragement
Much profound wisdom about life is embodied in the Chinese culture. The Education Bureau has recently rolled out a campaign to promote Chinese classic sayings and encourage the sharing of the wisdom therein. Here I would like to quote a line from the Book of Rites for HKDSE candidates. In the chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean, we are taught to “learn broadly, inquire rigorously, think carefully, discern clearly and practise earnestly”. Knowledge can be acquired from different realms. Young people could expose themselves to the widest range of knowledge and keep seeking enlightenment from others. What is more, you should think deeply and judge critically. By putting beliefs into action, you will surely grow into pillars of our society. Life is like a marathon. Today you have completed but a short leg in this long-distance race and it is up to you to decide your future course. You must keep going and seek continuous improvement. As long as you work hard, every one of you can become a useful person and contribute to society.
19 July 2020