Exam officials have appealed to their mainland counterparts to recognise Hong Kong's new public examination system for admitting students to their universities.
The Examinations and Assessment Authority's secretary general Tong Chong-sze said it was still sorting out admission arrangements with mainland universities for students taking the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination in March. He is hoping those who take the diploma can be exempted from the national exam now required of Hong Kong students hoping to enter university on the mainland.
'The DSE is a new system, so more understanding with the mainland is needed,' he said. 'We are looking into the possibilities of expediting the acceptance of the DSE as entry requirement.'
Under the current system, local students have to take the National College Entrance Examination to study at mainland universities. Exams on Chinese, English and mathematics are compulsory, while candidates can also take subjects related to programmes they apply for.
Tong added that the biggest issue is the timing, which made a special arrangement necessary.
'Results of the first DSE will be released on July 20, [but] the mainland will have released its joint exam results and finished the admission process by then. We will discuss with the mainland universities to see if they can allow a special case for Hong Kong students.'
Ministry figures show that in August last year there were 10,979 Hong Kong students enrolled in tertiary education on the mainland - almost double the 5,500 that were found by a survey conducted by Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department for the University Grants Committee.
Meanwhile, Tong said the new public exam would be fair and objective, referring especially to liberal studies which would be a compulsory subject in the exam - and used in assessment for university entrance.
He said each question would be graded by two examiners, and if the marks they gave diverged too much, a third person would grade the exam.
A DSE liberal studies paper consists of four questions, so at least eight assessors would be involved.
Such a grading system would ensure 'stable and consistent marking' for the new liberal studies, which often involve open and more analytical questions rather than a straightforward answer.
Students have to obtain at least a pass for enrolment at one of Hong Kong's eight universities.
Tong added that the authority has also prepared an online learning databank, and assigned district co-ordinators to offer more guidance for teachers in liberal studies.
'We will also distribute another set of practice papers to schools next January,' said Tong. 'Liberal studies aim to develop a set of thinking and analytical skills for students.'