UFD programme offers an alternative route
In the summer of 2008, like many Form Five school leavers who didn't perform well in the open exam under the local education system, Vivian Lai Chin-wang was disappointed by her HKCEE results. However, unlike most of her fellow disheartened candidates, she was not distraught about her future.
While visiting a career and education expo at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, before the results were released, Lai realised there were more options available for Form Five students, who want to go to university, in addition to the traditional pathway provided by the local education system. One of the alternatives is the three-year programme at Yew Chung Community College (YCCC).
'I didn't perform well in my HKCEE [Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority] exams and couldn't get an offer from my former school,' she says. 'If I went to other local secondary schools, they may have required me to retake the HKCEE exams. I might also have to queue up overnight to get an offer.
'At that time, I was thinking about pursuing my university studies overseas. Since YCCC has good connections with a number of universities in other countries, I decided to enrol in its UFD [University Foundation Diploma] programme,' says the 19-year-old, who will enter her second year of the associate degree programme in the coming academic year.
During the one-year UFD programme, a 36-credit pre-associate degree programme, Lai studied subjects such as Chinese and English languages, mathematics, critical thinking and changing world order, which incorporates history and current affairs. For school leavers who do not have five passes in HKCEE or International General Certificate of Secondary Education subjects, the college has a one-year pre-UFD course to give them a good foundation for the pre-associate degree course.
'In local schools, we would study the syllabus covered in the HKCEE. Here, the subject content is wider. We have to study English literature, as well as business English,' she says.
After completing the UFD course, Lai entered the two-year associate degree programme last year. Lai selected global media and communication as major subjects in her 66-credit associate degree. She will also take languages, general education and other optional courses. The programme, with two other core subjects, international business and social sciences, could lead to a university degree either overseas or in Hong Kong.
The small class of about 15 students, and the interactive teaching approach, enable Lai to better comprehend and absorb the knowledge.
Lai says she learns more from the small-class teaching approach because teachers pay more attention to each student's needs. Lai says her language abilities have improved as most teaching staff in the college are native English speakers and some of her classmates are non-Chinese speakers, and she is also immersed in a bilingual environment outside the classroom.
She has changed her mind about a career in media and will apply to Baptist University's public relations bachelor's degree programme under the non-JUPAS admission scheme in the coming year.