Frequently Asked Questions
- Which legislation provides for the regulation of non-local higher and professional education courses conducted in Hong Kong?
The Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap. 493) provides for the regulation of non-local higher and professional education courses conducted in Hong Kong.
- What are the objectives of the Ordinance?
The objective of the Ordinance is to protect Hong Kong consumers by guarding against the marketing of non-local higher and professional education courses conducted in Hong Kong which do not meet the registration criteria. It also enhances Hong Kong's reputation as a community which values higher academic and professional education.
- What courses are subject to regulation by the Ordinance?
All courses conducted in Hong Kong which lead to the award of non-local higher academic qualification or professional qualification are regulated by the Ordinance through a system of registration/exemption from registration.
- What are the major registration criteria for a course leading to the award of a non-local higher academic qualification by a non-local institution?
- The awarding institution is a non-local institution recognised in the home country.
- Effective measures are in place to ensure that the standard of the course is maintained at a level comparable with a course conducted in the home country leading to the same qualification and is recognised as such by that institution, the academic community in that country and the relevant accreditation authority in that country (if any).
- What are the major registration criteria for a course leading to the award of a non-local professional qualification by a non-local professional body?
- The course is recognised by the awarding professional body for the purpose of awarding the qualification or preparing students for any examination, test or other assessment the sitting for, passing or undergoing of which will lead to the award of the qualification.
- The professional body is generally recognised in the home country as an authoritative and representative professional body in the relevant profession.
- What courses are exempted from registration?
Subject to compliance with section 8 of the Ordinance, non-local courses conducted in collaboration with the following local institutions of higher education are exempted from registration:City University of Hong KongLingnan UniversityHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong Kong Shue Yan UniversityThe Chinese University of Hong KongThe Education University of Hong KongThe Hong Kong Academy for Performing ArtsThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyThe Open University of Hong KongThe University of Hong Kong
- Some course operators claim that their courses are "purely distance learning courses". What does it mean?
"Purely distance learning courses" are conducted solely through delivery of mail, transmission of information by means of telecommunication or sale of materials in commercial outlets. To avoid restriction of the freedom of expression including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds guaranteed under Article 16 of the Bill of Rights Ordinance, "purely distance learning courses" are not required to register. However, operators of such courses are encouraged to apply for registration in order to demonstrate that the courses also meet the registration criteria under the Ordinance.
- How can I check if a non-local course is registered or exempted under the Ordinance?
The public may check the registration or exemption status of non-local courses in one of the following ways:Look up the lists of registered courses and exempted courses on the Non-local Higher and Professional Education Courses (http://www.edb.gov.hk/en/edu-system/postsecondary/non-local-higher-professional-edu/index.html)Call the enquiry hotline of the Non-local Courses Registry of the Education Bureau on (852)2520 0255 or 2520 0559.Send a request to the Non-local Courses Registry of the Education Bureau by fax on (852)2520 0061 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Are non-local courses registered or exempted under the Ordinance recognised in Hong Kong?
The registration or exemption of a non-local course under the Ordinance does not carry with it any indication or implication whatsoever that this confers any particular standing to the course or comparability to a local degree programme. The recognition of any qualification for employment purposes is a matter within the discretion of individual employers.
- Where can I find information of non-local courses that have been locally accredited by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications?
The list of locally accredited non-local courses is available from the Qualification Register http://www.hkqr.gov.hk/HKQRPRD/web/hkqr-en/search/qr-search/.
- Where can I obtain information on qualifications assessment for appointment to the Civil Service?
Qualification requirements for civil service posts are normally set with reference to qualifications obtainable under the local education system or from local institutions. Candidates holding non-local qualifications may also apply and will be considered for appointment if their qualifications are assessed as comparable in standard to the entry qualification requirements of the posts being applied for. For further details, please refer to the webpage on Qualifications Assessment on Civil Service Bureau's website at http://www.csb.gov.hk/english/recruit/qual/333.html.
- How can I tell from advertisements of non-local courses whether the courses advertised are registered or exempted from registration?
An advertisement of a registered course should bear the registration number of the course. For an exempted course, it should be stated clearly that the course is an exempted course. In addition, all advertisements of registered courses or exempted courses should contain the statement which reads "It is a matter of discretion for individual employers to recognise any qualification to which this course may lead".
- Are registered courses monitored?
To ensure registration criteria are met continuously, operators of registered courses have to submit annual returns to the Registrar of Non-local Higher and Professional Education Courses (the Registrar) for scrutiny. They are also required to notify the Registrar in writing of any change in content of the course or arrangement for payment and refund of fees and charges within 1 month of such change.
- Besides quality assurance, what are the other major obligations of course operators?
- State clearly in the contract with students all the fees as well as the arrangements for payment and refund of fees and charges approved by the Registrar (applicable to registered courses only).
- Within 30 days of payment of fees and charges by students, issue them with receipts in writing setting out the date of receipt and the amount and the purpose of the payment.
- Use suitable premises specified under section 5 of the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Rules for conducting course activities.
- What should I pay attention to when enrolling on a non-local course?
- Choose courses which are registered or exempted from registration. Do not pay any fee or charge before you make sure that the course is registered or exempted.
- See if the advertisement of a registered course bears the registration number and that of an exempted course has clearly stated that it is an exempted course.
- Check that the offer letter of acceptance bears the name of the operator and those of the non-local institution and the course.
- Check the payment arrangement and refund policy before signing any documents or making payments, and obtain receipts from the operator.
- Understand that registration/ exemption from registration of a course does not on its own confer any particular standing to the course or comparability to a local higher education programme, and that it is a matter of discretion for individual employers to recognise any qualification to which the course may lead.
- Understand that some of the courses on the list of registered/exempted non-local courses are locally accredited by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications under the Qualifications Framework and listed in the Qualifications Register.
- If the course you are interested in is delivered in distance learning mode which does not require to be registered, you are strongly advised to check with the course provider/operator on the course details, in particular the qualification to be obtained, the payment arrangements and refund policy before making payment.
- Where can I obtain more information on the Ordinance or the procedures for application for registration/exemption?
Members of the public are welcome to contact the Non-local Courses Registry of the Education Bureau for more information.
Address: Room 603, 6/F
14 Taikoo Wan Road
Telephone no.: (852)2520 0255 or 2520 0559
Facsimile no.: (852)2520 0061
E-mail address: email@example.com