Worried about falling academic standards

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 January, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 January, 1994, 12:00am

TWENTY to 30 years ago, it was very difficult to get into a university in Hong Kong. Part of the reason was that there were only two such institutions.

Also, entrance requirements demanded high academic standards from students applying to become undergraduates.

Consequently, competition for places was very keen. However, more tertiary institutions came into being, such as the Hong Kong Polytechnic and the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong (CPHK).

There is also now, an additional university. So, over the years, an increasing number of tertiary places have become available.

Unfortunately, this increase, has had an adverse effect on the quality of graduates. This is not widely recognised and should be a cause of public concern.

In particular, students have problems with their command of English and Chinese language. It may surprise readers to learn that some tertiary students cannot pronounce some simple words like, for example, ''youth'', and ''dispute''. When they are asked to speak in English, many of them fall silent.

Many of the students also lack analytical skills. Such skills are crucial for studying subjects at this level of education. What is even worse is that some tertiary science lecturers have a poor command of English and this compounds the problems studentsface.

I am a student at the City Polytechnic, so, I am glad to learn that all tertiary institutes will become universities. When I have finished my studies, I will be deemed to be a university graduate. While I welcome this, I feel that something has to be done about the problem of falling standards.

Entry requirements should be revised by college heads and there should be more language remedial classes to help students express themselves better in English.

Students in secondary schools should spend more time on English, especially those who are preparing to go to tertiary colleges.

Only by improving the quality of students can tertiary institutions justify calling themselves universities.