Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Community colleges in Hong Kong

60 per cent of Hong Kong’s secondary school graduates are said to be able to participate in post-secondary education. But all of Hong Kong’s universities together offer only 14,500 places each year, about 16.5% of the agre group. How come? 16.5% is very different from 60%, no matter how you look at it. How can both numbers be true? Either someone is lying, or they are playing with the statistics.

Here is why. Much of the 60% are not actually in universities. They are studying associate degrees at community colleges such as this one, more or less the equivalent of form 7 plus the first year in three-year university degree programs. Or they are studying the more traditional higher diplomas, diplomas, certificates, etc. Many are enticed into associate degree programs with the prospect of entering into university after completing their associate degrees.

The reality? The participation rate at universities remain at 16.5% of the age group. Indeed some places originally intended for students who took the Advanced Level Examinations have been given to associate degree holders, and some hundreds of places have been created especially for associate degree holders. But that is miniscule compared to the tens of thousands of fresh associate degree holders each year. Most are disappointed. Those who can afford it go overseas.

This must rank as one of the biggest deceptions in the history of education.

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