'Universities should remove barriers and allow more students to be admitted at various levels'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2001, 12:00am

Universities have been called on to help develop a more relaxed system of credit transfers for students, to boost the number with access to higher education.

An Education Commission sub-group is due to finalise proposals by the end of the year for the implementation of a flexible and transferable credit unit system.

'Universities should remove barriers and allow more students to be admitted at various levels, not just in the first year,' said Professor Chung Yue-ping, of the Chinese University and a member of the commission sub-group on post-secondary education.

A more flexible system was essential for the Government to meet its target of doubling the percentage of people with access to tertiary education to 60 per cent, he said.

Baptist University president Professor Ng Ching-fai said he supported a greater interflow of students among institutions. 'This is definitely worth encouraging as it allows universities to share resources,' he said. 'What should be avoided is competition for students among institutions.'

Meanwhile, a joint committee comprising university registrars has submitted to university heads a report on the current mechanisms for credit transfer, Education Post has learnt.

It made no specific recommendations in its report, but members agreed on the need to increase awareness among secondary school students and the public of the current mechanisms for credit transfers.

All degree programmes are now run on a credit basis, with students required to obtain a certain number to graduate. Credits gained on overseas exchange programmes are also recognised.

But unlike in the US, where credits earned at community colleges and universities are often transferable, it is rare for students here to take courses in institutions other than the one they are registered with.

In its reform proposals last year, the Education Commission recommended a transferable credit system to widen students' choice of subjects.

This would also allow institutions and individual departments to focus resources on their own strengths.

Reform should be carefully considered, said Lee Shu-wing, deputy registrar at the Chinese University and a member of the universities' joint committee. He warned that students might flock to courses that they thought were easy to pass or had a reputable quality.

Mr Lee said there may also be logistical difficulties: 'It is a long journey for students to go to, say, the University of Science and Technology from ours. There may be difficulties with scheduling students' timetables if they also attend classes elsewhere,' he said, adding there was no need to impose a 'common currency' system, with universities requiring the same number of credits for students to graduate.

Mui Lok-wood, registrar at Lingnan University, who is in favour of a credit transfer system, said the university was in favour of its students broadening their training by taking science subjects elsewhere.

The small liberal arts institution does not offer science subjects or courses such as geography. It was not cost-effective for Lingnan, with a student population of only 2,100, to invest in science laboratories, he said.