Unified courses to allow college switching

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 September, 1999, 12:00am

Universities are preparing to unify parts of their curriculums to take account of a proposal to allow students to switch between institutions to complete degrees.

Courses will have to be trimmed down to common core parts to make it easier for students to move to another university and continue studying the same course.

Pilot curriculums are to be worked out when new courses begin, it is understood.

Among the first batch is expected to be a teacher-training degree course at the University of Science and Technology.

It is planning to join forces with the Institute of Education to offer teacher-training to its mathematics and computer students.

The proposal to allow students to switch between courses, called a 'credit-transfer' system, aims to cut costs by minimising the number of new courses.

Students majoring in one subject at one university can take a second subject at another university and have there credits transferred.

The scheme would be particularly attractive to students at smaller colleges.

Credit transfer is popular in North America, but Hong Kong has followed the British system where undergraduates concentrate on the area of study they select for their degree.

Heads of the eight government-funded universities are expected to meet later this year to discuss the feasibility of a transferable credit system. At present, universities have different curriculums for even the same degree course making it difficult to recognise transferred credits.

Allowing students freer choices is a key part of the sweeping reform proposed by the high-powered Education Commission.

Chaired by Executive Councillor Antony Leung Kam-chung, the commission is expected to release its report tomorrow.

While it favours a six-year secondary education system, it does not touch much on whether university education should be three or four years.

However, City University vice-president Professor Edmond Ko Inq-ming said: 'What matters is whether students can gain good educational experience. Otherwise, it is wasting resources keeping them longer in college.' University heads have been told to submit cost-cutting plans to the University Grants Committee, by the middle of next month.

Dr Alice Lam Lee Kiu-yue, committee chairman, said: 'We are aware there are concerns over funding cuts. But I can assure the quality of education will not be compromised by whatever measures or proposals we may put forward.'