Dr Choi Yuk-linSecretary for Education
The release day of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination results is right around the corner. Candidates must have been waiting for long in nervous anticipation. Over the past three years, students have faced enormous challenges in their learning due to the epidemic. The switch between face-to-face classes and online classes has made teaching and learning extremely difficult. Nonetheless, it gives me great pride to see our candidates not giving up on their learning and, with the support of teachers and parents, overcoming all obstacles to sail through the Examination.
Life planning with multiple pathways
The future of Hong Kong hinges on our young people. When young people thrive, Hong Kong thrives; when young people grow, Hong Kong grows. Attaching great importance to education, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region strives to provide quality education to children and never ceases to create opportunities for our students to grow and succeed. The Education Bureau has been actively promoting life planning education in collaboration with the education and business sectors as well as non-governmental organisations. We aim to help students gain an early insight into their interests and potential, and find out more about the various pathways available for further studies, employment and development so that they can identify their way forward and plan for the future.
At present, we have achieved an 80% age participation rate for post-secondary education, of which 55% of the students are admitted to undergraduate programmes. This year, a total of around 50 000 candidates sat the HKDSE Examination. They are given different choices of programmes provided by various post-secondary institutions, which offer nearly 23 000 undergraduate and 24 000 sub-degree places. Together with other programme places offered for secondary school graduates (e.g. the Vocational Training Council’s diploma programmes), there are around 62 000 tertiary places in total available to the HKDSE candidates. This will be enough to allow students to select their study pathways according to their interests and abilities. Moreover, all students who have attained “3322” or above in the HKDSE Examination and enrolled in self-financing degree programmes offered by eligible institutions will be entitled to receive a non-means-tested subsidy under the Non-means-tested Subsidy Scheme for Self-financing Undergraduate Studies in Hong Kong.
As for the University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities, we encourage them to consider student admission from the perspective of diverse individual talents. For this reason, the School Nominations Direct Admission Scheme (SNDAS) was introduced this year to enable the UGC-funded universities to consider direct admission of secondary students whose talents may not be fully assessed by the HKDSE Examination having regard to their outstanding performance in specific disciplines or areas, thereby providing them with opportunities to further studies. This year, 186 students have been admitted to undergraduate programmes under the SNDAS before the release of the HKDSE Examination results and they will commence their study in September. In addition, we are pleased to note that more universities are willing to exercise greater flexibility in student admission on the basis of the “3322” requirement, and consider holistically a student’s performance and potential in both academic and non-academic areas.
Vocational and professional education and training (VPET) puts knowledge into practice
Our society needs a diversity of talents and provides diversified development opportunities for them. The Government therefore encourages young people to pursue different education and employment pathways that best suit their interests and abilities. In fact, the number of Secondary Four students choosing Applied Learning courses in their senior secondary studies increased significantly from 950 in the 2020/21 school year to 5 180 in the 2021/22 school year, reflecting students’ keen interests in and demands for VPET.
To this end, we have been actively promoting VPET to provide students with options outside the conventional academic curriculum. In the 2022/23 academic year, the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors offers some 3 000 places in 44 undergraduate programmes and some 2 000 places in 32 sub-degree programmes. Students will receive a subsidy to pursue studies relevant to industries with a keen manpower demand, such as architecture and engineering, computer science, creative industries and health care.
In addition, the Government will launch the Pilot Project on the Development of Applied Degree Programmes in the 2022/23 academic year. There will be strong industry involvement in the programme development with an applied focus, providing substantial internships and work-based learning opportunities, thereby equipping students with trade-recognised qualifications. Four degree programmes, namely nursing; integrated testing and certification; horticulture, arboriculture and landscape management; and applied gerontology, have been selected from different self-financing post-secondary institutions, offering around 650 places to provide students with a variety of vocational and professional progression pathways.
Understand our country and develop a broader horizon
Looking ahead, the stage set for our young people will become bigger and bigger as Hong Kong is privileged to enjoy the unique and distinct strengths of having our motherland’s support while being connected with the world. Under the auspices of the 14th Five-Year Plan, the national strategies of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong has every support from the Central Government to seize development opportunities, to leverage its unique advantages under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” and its status as a world city, and to integrate into the overall national development. The potential of the city is boundless indeed.
In this connection, through the Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions run by the State Ministry of Education, students who wish to study in the Mainland may apply for admission to about 130 participating Mainland institutions direct with their HKDSE Examination results, without having to take the Joint Entrance Examination for Mainland Institutions. At the same time, Hong Kong students pursuing further studies in the Mainland are entitled to financial assistance under the Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme, which aims to support these students in broadening their horizons and developing their pathways.
A journey of greatness for all
Dear students, in completing this year’s HKDSE examination, you have risen to the challenge of a severe epidemic and demonstrated your indomitable spirit and perseverance. Regardless of the results, your efforts have been recognised. We believe that “all roads lead to Rome”. Your sustained motivation and endeavour to work hard and exercise flexibility will pay off; whether you want to follow the original route or find another way out, you are off on the road to success. I wish you all the best and hope that you will give full play to your talents and achieve yet another milestone for our country, Hong Kong and yourselves!
18 July 2022