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There are a range of options available to students who thrive in non-traditional educational environments, or who want to begin a career soon after their studies. These options come in the form of institutions offering vocational training courses.
The Hong Kong Vocational Training Council (VTC), several universities and other professional training institutions in Hong Kong offer a comprehensive range of subsidised and self-financing subdegree programmes for Form Five graduates, including diplomas, higher diplomas and associate degrees.
The higher diploma and diploma courses are more vocation-oriented whereas associate degree programmes put the emphasis on general education.
Before students decide which subdegree programme to enrol in, they should make detailed inquiries with the institutions and collect information on several programmes for comparison. Areas that need attention include course contents, subjects offered, articulation arrangements with various universities, and whether the qualifications attained will lead to some top-up degrees.
Under the VTC, the nine campuses of the Hong Kong Institution of Vocational Education (IVE) and several other institutes, such as the School of Business and Information Systems (SBI), offer subsidised two-year diploma and three- or four-year higher diploma programmes. IVE and SBI also provide Fly High higher-diploma courses of three and four years which feature multiple admission and graduation points to suit the needs of students.
These courses are in nine disciplines: applied science; business administration; information technology; child education and community services; construction; design, printing, textiles and clothing; electrical and electronic engineering; mechanical, manufacturing and industrial engineering; and hotel, service and tourism studies.
Different IVE schools specialise in courses under different disciplines. Design-oriented programmes in printing, textiles and clothing are offered by IVE Sha Tin, Kwai Chung and Kwung Tong. Graduates of these courses may find employment as graphic, product, jewellery, timepiece, interior and fashion designers and as professionals in fashion-product development, the retail business or in print and digital media.
Form Five graduates with five passes in HKCEE, including English language (Syllabus B), may apply for the higher diploma or diploma courses and Level 2 of the four-year Fly High higher-diploma courses. Graduates of the higher diploma programmes may progress to the top-up degree courses offered by local and overseas universities in collaboration with the School for Higher and Professional Education under VTC.
Students who do not have the five passes may apply for one-year foundation diploma courses. After they have successfully completed the foundation diploma programmes, they may apply for progression to higher-diploma or diploma courses.
VTC's Youth College offers nearly 20 one-year diplomas in vocational studies intensive courses in computer-aided design and manufacture, automation engineering, tourism and accommodation operations, and building services engineering. One-year technician foundation certificate courses are also organised by various industry training centres. Certificate courses in hospitality and Chinese cuisine are offered by the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute and Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre.
Full-time accredited self-financing associate degree programmes are offered by some local universities and other continuing education institutions. Apart from the provision of general education, Chinese, English and quantitative skills, associate degree students have a wide selection of disciplines, including accounting, management, information technology, design and communications, and they receive training in practical skills designed to prepare them for employment.