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Tertiary students' command of English

LEGCO QUESTION NO.17

Date of sitting: 17 April 2002

Asked by: The Hon Dr HO Chung-tai

Replied by: SEM

Question:

It has been reported that the Government has required all universities in Hong Kong to hold exit English examination for their graduates. Regarding the English proficiency of university graduates, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

  1. the admission requirement in respect of English proficiency for BBA and LLB courses in all universities except the Open University of Hong Kong, in the past three years; the average grades which graduates during the same period had attained in Use of English in the Advanced Level Examination when they were admitted to these departments;

  2. whether the universities have provided English courses for students of various departments to enhance their English proficiency over the past three years; if so, of the details;

  3. the initial ideas of the universities on how the exit English examination should be conducted for their graduates; and

  4. the scheduled time for implementing the exit English examination by the universities?

Reply:

Madam President:

  1. Among the 8 University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded institutions, only City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and the University of Hong Kong (HKU) offer LLB programmes. With the exception of the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), all other institutions offer BBA programmes. The great majority of the students admitted to these two programmes had taken Advanced Supplementary Level Use of English (ASLUE) test in the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination. Other students had equivalent qualifications. A table illustrating the average grades attained in ASLUE are set out at Annex I.


  2. Over the past three years, all the UGC-funded institutions have been providing a wide variety of courses to enhance the English proficiency of students. Such courses are designed generally to enhance the students' language skills, as well as to cater for the needs and characteristics of different disciplines and professions. Some institutions provide English enhancement courses specifically for first year students in order to equip them with the necessary English language skills for academic studies at the tertiary level. Details are set out at Annex II.

  3. The UGC is in the process of identifying a suitable test to serve as a common English proficiency assessment for all graduating students of UGC-funded institutions. It aims to select a well-established test which is currently available in Hong Kong and has a high degree of international recognition. As an incentive for students to take the test voluntarily, they will be entitled to reimbursement of test fees once during their time in the institution, if they come forth with the results of the test for recording in their transcripts. The UGC is working out the details with the UGC-funded institutions and parties concerned.

  4. The target of the UGC and the institutions is to implement the common English proficiency assessment in the 2002-03 academic year.

Annex I

Average grades attained by BBA and LLB graduates in ASLUE

Institution and programme Average grades of graduates in ASLUE Minimum admission requirement in respect of English proficiency
1998-99 1999-2000 2000- 01
CityU BBA D D D Grade D in ASLUE
LLB D D D
HKBU BBA D D D Grade E in ASLUE
LU BBA E E E Grade E in ASLUE
CUHK BBA C C C Grade E in ASLUE
HKUST BBA C D C Grade D in ASLUE
HKU BBA C C C Grade D in ASLUE
LLB B B B

 

Annex II

Details of English courses provided by UGC-funded institutions
in the past three years


CityU

- CityU offers a wide variety of English courses for all students of Higher Diploma, Associate Degree and Bachelor's Degree Programmes to enable them to interact proficiently in social and professional situations, and acquire the necessary knowledge of English grammar, usage and writing skills for academic purposes. English courses have been provided for students from about 20 disciplines/departments, including the Department of English and Communication, Department of Building and Construction, Department of Applied Social Studies, Department of Biology and Chemistry, etc.

HKBU

- HKBU offers English courses for all first year students to help them acquire the English language skills required for tertiary studies. It also provides English courses to cater for the needs of individual disciplines, including Business Administration, Social Sciences, Translation and English Language & Literature.

LU

- LU offers English courses for all first year students (except for those majoring in English or Translation) to enable them to communicate effectively in English for academic and future employment purposes. It also provides English courses for senior level students from individual disciplines, such as Chinese, Social Sciences and Business Administration. There is also an elective course for all second and third year students focusing on developing effective communication skills in English and critical and creative thinking skills.


CUHK

- CUHK offers a course on English phonetics for all first year undergraduate students to strengthen their ability to consult dictionaries and pave the way for more advanced courses. In addition, a language enhancement programme comprising more than 10 courses is also provided to students of each faculty as part of the graduation requirement. There are also more than 30 elective courses and activities for all students providing training in different language skills.

HKIEd

- HKIEd offers more than 20 English courses for its students to develop their English skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening and to cater for their academic and professional needs. Such courses are provided for students from various disciplines/programmes, including Primary Education, Secondary Education, Early Childhood Education and Languages. Moreover, English language development is also integrated into courses for in-service teachers.

PolyU

- PolyU offers an English course for all first year students at both degree and sub-degree levels to help them pursue their university studies through the medium of English. It also provides a course on English in the workplace for all degree students to help them develop English language skills that are required for their professional careers. Several other courses are also provided to students from individual disciplines/departments, including School of Design, Mechanical Engineering, Accounting, etc.

HKUST

- HKUST offers an English course for all first year students to equip them with basic English language skills required to study at tertiary level. There are also about 15 courses catering for the needs of individual disciplines, including Engineering, Business, and Science, etc.


HKU

- HKU offers more than 30 English courses for students from a wide variety of disciplines, including Architecture, Arts, Business and Economics, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Science and Social Sciences. Such courses aim to meet the needs and characteristics of respective academic areas and professions, as well as to equip students with the necessary English language skills for the workplace.

Note :
CityU : City University of Hong Kong
HKBU : Hong Kong Baptist University
LU : Lingnan University
CUHK : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
HKIEd : The Hong Kong Institute of Education
PolyU : The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
HKUST : The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
HKU : The University of Hong Kong

Last revision date: 17 April 2002
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