Call for additional university places

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am

More than a third of people think the government should increase the number of university places for local students, according to a survey conducted by the Democratic Party.

The survey also found people had lost confidence in associate degrees because of their poor recognition, varied quality and expensive fees.

A total of 1,098 people, including parents, secondary school pupils and associate degree students, were polled last month. The survey found 38.6 per cent thought the government should give priority to raising the number of bachelor degree places. About 20 per cent called for better teaching for associate degrees.

The findings come amid the controversy over the Nursing Council's rejection of professional accreditation for associate degree holders from the Institute of Technology.

About 50 nursing students protested outside the Legislative Council on Thursday.

Democratic Party legislator Fred Li Wah-ming said the controversy was a 'red light' for people's confidence in associate degrees.

'Even though the survey was done before the controversy broke out, people already doubted the recognition of associate degrees,' Mr Li said. 'The controversy will hit people's confidence further.'

Among the 682 respondents who said they would prefer not to pursue associate degrees, 42.5 per cent questioned their quality and recognition. About 40 per cent thought the fees were too high and the chance of entering a bachelor degree was slight.

The Democrats urged the government to revise the 'rigid policy' of capping the proportion of school leavers entering full-time, sponsored bachelor degrees at 18 per cent.

'Government should at least increase the ratio to 23.5 per cent. That is comparable to Hong Kong's competitors like Singapore,' Mr Li said.

'The government definitely has the resources to increase the places, amid the plentiful surplus of this year's budget.'

Legislators will debate a motion on Wednesday urging the government to increase places and subsidies to associate degree students.