35pc sorry they did an associate degree course

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am

A survey shows that more than a third of associate degree students regret their studies, saying the qualification will not boost their job prospects.

Civic think-tank Roundtable surveyed 516 associate degree students studying at the continuing education arm of the University of Hong Kong and Polytechnic University.

More than half of the respondents took a gloomy view of their future, with 57 per cent saying they were pessimistic about their job prospects. Fifty-eight per cent thought they did not get enough support from the government, 11 per cent said they were optimistic about public acceptance of associate degrees and 65 per cent bemoaned the lack of public recognition of their qualifications. About half said having an associate degree did not help in their search for jobs and 35 per cent said they would not enrol in the programme if they had their time again.

Chan Man-hin, 20, a social work associate degree student with City University's Community College, said he was worried about his future. 'Many employers equate our qualification with that of a Form Seven graduate,' he said.

Roundtable researcher Jacky Fung Chi-ching said: 'Many graduates think that university degrees are the only real pathway to a good job.'

The survey is the latest in a long list of woes that have dogged the associate degree scheme since it was introduced in 2000 by the government to increase the number of young people receiving tertiary education to 60 per cent. A dearth of mechanisms guaranteeing admission standards and poor job prospects have led educators to doubt the scheme's effectiveness.

Fung Wai-wah, convenor of the Alliance for the Concern of SubDegree Education, said the survey results were hardly surprising.

'Associate degree students have long been trapped in limbo,' he said. 'There are about 20,000 to 30,000 associate degree graduates every year. But only 1,927 UGC-funded second-year degree places are set aside for associate degree graduates every year. A majority of graduates who are qualified for articulation to subsidised second-year degree programmes are forced to enrol in selffinanced top-up programmes.

In addition to the limited progression pathways, many employers are not eager to employ them. They are forced to accept low-paid jobs even though they have invested HK$100,000 in a two-year associate degree.'

A spokeswoman for the Education Bureau said 60 more subsidised second-year degree places would be set aside for associate degree graduates in the new academic year and consideration would be given to the need to review the scheme.