Competition among community colleges for quality students is escalating as the number of programmes available for Form Seven graduates continues to grow.
As the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) increases the number of two-year higher diploma courses for Form Seven graduates, senior lecturer at the social studies division of City University of Hong Kong, Fung Wai-wah said the competition was going to be tough.
The IVE will offer an additional 1,600 two-year higher diploma course places in the coming school year, bringing the total number of places to 3,000.
The number of programmes will rise from 26 to 62 courses. Tuition fees range between HK$24,700 and HK$39,000, as some are subsidised.
'The number of Form Seven graduates has not grown dramatically but the number of associate degree places and courses for these students is increasing,' said Dr Fung who also teaches associate degree programmes at the university's community college.
'More people are trying for the same cake. It is going to be tough.'
Some colleges were pushed to recruit students who failed in English in public examinations in the wake of keen competition, he added.
'Though it is not a rule, most colleges agree students are required to get a pass in English in order to be admitted to an associate degree programme.
'But some colleges want to compete for more students, and they offer intensive language programmes to students who failed in English and recruit them into their programmes anyway,' he said.
One of these is Chinese University of Hong Kong - Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Community College, which requires students who failed English to take an English course that cost HK$2,250 last year. Caritas Bianchi College of Careers offers a 60-hour language course in Chinese and English for HK$600.
'The quality of associate degree graduates varies a great deal as the government has very limited control over the quality of programmes and different colleges have different admission policies,' said Dr Fung.
To attract quality students, the college will introduce five new associate degree programmes in the coming school year.
'We are not too worried about the keen competition as the quality of our programmes is guaranteed with courses taught by our university staff and a campus for associate degree students which is in fact our university campus,' vice-principal (academic) of the university's community college Wanda Lau said.