Those who don't have the grades to undertake a degree can choose from a range of higher education options
There is no need for panic if your grades are not good enough to get you a university place. There are plenty of alterative routes to top up your qualifications or obtain a higher qualification.
Hong Kong has a wide range of colleges, training institutes and schools of continuous learning that offer part-time and full-time certificates, diplomas, degrees and top-up programmes.
There is also the option of distance learning with an overseas college or university, or studying with The Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK).
The OUHK provides an alternative study path for all aspiring learners aged 17 and above. With the exception of some postgraduate and professional programmes, enrolment in OUHK courses requires no educational qualifications.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong's School of Continuing Studies has 14 centres dotted around Hong Kong for convenience and easy access.
All award-bearing programmes have to be vetted according to approval procedures set out by the university.
Programmes on offer are evaluated regularly to take into account opinions from students, instructors and programme advisers so as to maintain a high quality.
More than 60 programmes are included in the government's Continuing Education Fund, which allows students to apply for partial reimbursement of course fees.
The University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE) offers a range of higher diploma programmes aimed at those who are unable to attend university.
Dr Ma Chi, HKU SPACE Community College associate vice-principal, said the higher diploma programmes give students a broad range of options that could lead directly to employment or further education.
About 70 per cent of last year's diploma graduates found employment, and the balance 30 per cent opted to continue their studies.
HKU SPACE offers 14 diploma programmes, including new courses covering business financial services, marketing, management, and media and corporate communications.
The students' progress is continuously monitored and assessed.
Students are encouraged to work in groups to develop their oral and writing skills.
Dr Ma said the programmes are structured to give students a broad outlook.
Programmes contain a high proportion of generic subjects, such as English, Putonghua, mathematics and the development of interpersonal communication skills designed to be useful in the workplace.
'Learning does not have to be a linear process, in which the student attends a formal learning programme, gains knowledge and skills, and then the learning ceases,' Dr Ma said.
The School of Continuing Education at the Hong Kong Baptist University has been providing options for professional training and academic advancement since 1975.
The school has also designed a comprehensive study ladder that gives individuals flexibility to plan their studies at their own pace and in their own time. These include short courses, diploma and certificate programmes and bachelor, master's and doctoral degrees.
Some of the programmes are included in the list of reimbursable courses for the Continuing Education Fund.
A number of short courses designed on a modular basis are grouped into various streams under diploma and certificate programmes.
Caritas, an educational charity, and the YMCA also offer a wide range of programmes that lead to recognised qualifications for those seeking a tertiary education.
Caritas enrolments alone exceed 100,000. Degree programmes include financial studies, tourism and marketing management, business information systems and bilingual business communication.
In addition, the college provides one-year, day-time, top-up bachelor's degree programmes in collaboration with overseas partners.
Check that the programme you enrol in offers a recognised qualification.
Ask whether credits and qualifications can be transferred to other university degree programmes.
Make sure you can attend each lesson, and that lectures do not clash with work or other study commitments.
Choose top-up programmes that provide the best route to your chosen certificate, diploma or degree.
Shop around - because the cheapest or most expensive programme may not provide you with the qualification you need.
Schools of continuing education
Chinese University of Hong Kong School of Continuing Studies website: www.scs.cuhk.edu.hk/
City University of Hong Kong School of Continuing and Professional Education (SCOPE) website: www.cityu.edu.hk/cityu/dpt-acad/scope.htm
Hong Kong Baptist University School of Continuing Education website: www.sce.hkbu.edu.hk/
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
College of Professional and Continuing Education
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Office of Continuing and Professional Education website: www.ust.hk/ocpe/
Lingnan Institute of Further Education
University of Hong Kong
School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE)