Tommy Cheung Sau-yin did not allow himself a holiday yesterday even though he had reasons to celebrate - the 18-year-old Form Six student had been admitted to Chinese University's political science department, his top choice.
The young activist, who has spent months on the street to oppose the introduction of national education, continued his street protests yesterday with fellow members of the concern group Scholarism.
"I have always explored what is worth doing. I will continue to do so when I enter university, finding out what has been missing in society," said Cheung, a recent graduate of Shun Tak Fraternal Association Leung Kau Kui College, a secondary school in a Tuen Mun public estate.
Cheung is among some 64,000 students who were notified yesterday of the results of their university application by the Joint University Programmes Admissions System.
It marked an unprecedented university allocation exercise that followed the first Diploma for Secondary Education examinations after education reforms.
While Cheung chose a unique way to mark his success, many others had no reason to rejoice. Some 80 per cent of DSE graduates had not secured a university degree spot this year, due to a lack of places.
"I was a bit disappointed as I wanted to be admitted to the hotel management programme [at Polytechnic University," said Vanessa Ma, 18, who was instead offered a place in a higher diploma programme - an alternative track to enter university - at PolyU.
"I will work my hardest, though, and strive for my desired programme," Ma said at the University of Hong Kong campus, where the admission scheme office is located.
Only 14,800 of the 72,000 students who took the DSE got offers, although many more had results good enough to enter degree courses. Not all students applied to university before taking the exam.
Candidates who missed out will now have to opt for alternative study routes such as private degree courses, sub-degree courses, vocational training institutions or overseas institutions.
On the bright side, the admissions office said 86 per cent of DSE takers offered a place got one of their top three preferred programmes. The office also said 70 per cent of the 64,000 who applied for places had reshuffled their priority lists after they learned their results on July 20.
The entrants will join 15,000 more students who took A-levels. Under the city's education reform, the A-levels were held for the last time this year and will not longer be accepted for entrance to public universities.
Under the new system, successful candidates will receive a four-year rather than three-year university education.