Competition for university places is tougher this year than last, as more secondary school students have achieved the minimum requirements for admission in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) exam.
Statistics released yesterday by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority showed that of 82,283 students who took HKDSE exams this year, 28,418 obtained the minimum score for about 15,000 government-subsidised first-year university degree places through the joint admission system.
That represents a 7 per cent increase from the 26,552 last year, and it means that more than 13,000 students will have to pay more for full-fee private courses, opt for sub-degree programmes or look elsewhere.
"When applying for admission, students have to consider their own interest, the special requirements of the programme that they apply for and their performance in the admission interview," said Thomas Cheung Kwong-yuen, acting deputy secretary general of the HKEAA. "The score can only be used as reference but can't be treated as the only indicator for admission."
The number of candidates from outside the school system also increased 736 per cent, from 1,329 last year to 11,115 this year, as some students from the first HKDSE exam resat it this year and some from the previous Advanced Level Examination might have taken the new syllabus.
Some 88 per cent of students scored a level-two or higher in liberal studies, making it once again the best performing core subject, outperforming mathematics, at 80.7 per cent, and each of the two languages.
Some 51.4 per cent of pupils scored a level-three or higher in Chinese, up from 49 per cent last year when some students from elite schools missed out on university places as they failed the grade. However, only 48.5 per cent of pupils scored a level-three or higher in English.
In mathematics, some 80.7 per cent of students scored a level-two or higher, compared to 79 per cent last year.
Nine students obtained seven level-five "double-star" marks, putting them in the top 1 per cent for those subjects. One student with special needs bagged six level-five "double-star" marks, alongside 13 other pupils.
The diploma exam was held for the second time since so-called 3+3+4 education reforms came into full effect. Secondary school education was cut from seven to six years and standard university degree courses lengthened from three to four years.
A score of 3-3-2-2 in the core subjects of mathematics, English, Chinese and liberal studies satisfies the basic requirements for a local university place.