Letters to the Editor, July 9, 2017
International standards met in assessments
Over the past few weeks, there has been some discussion about quality assurance arrangements for the self-financing postsecondary education sector in Hong Kong.
It is worth noting that Hong Kong is one of the economies in Asia that has the longest experience with systematic quality assurance of post-secondary education.
Hong Kong has a dual system for quality assurance of selffinanced education. The Quality Assurance Council (QAC) of the University Grants Committee (UGC) conducts quality audits of publicly funded universities and the sub-degree operations of their self-financed arms.
The Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) has undertaken the quality assurance of all other self-financing colleges in Hong Kong for the past 27 years.
Having two quality assurance bodies focused on different sectors in higher education is not unusual and the arrangement in Hong Kong is similar to that in other similar-sized jurisdictions, such as Singapore and New Zealand.
Academic programmes of self-financing post-secondary institutions are quality assured through HKCAAVQ accreditation and recognised under the Qualifications Framework, just as those offered by self-accrediting local universities and their self-financed arms. HKCAAVQ accredits learning programmes against a rigorous set of standards that have been benchmarked internationally. Like most other quality-assurance bodies around the world, HKCAAVQ uses peers to assess the programmes. The peers are local academics from Hong Kong universities and for degree programmes, peers also come from overseas institutions.
This approach ensures the assessment of the self-financed programmes against the standards aligns with the quality of the degree programmes offered by local universities and with international practice.
The outcomes of the quality assurance processes are made available to the public so that people can make an informed decision about their study choices.
Reports of the quality audits undertaken by the QAC and accreditation exercises undertaken by HKCAAVQ are available on their respective websites. The accredited programmes are placed on the Hong Kong Qualifications Register.
This is a publicly available website that lists all of the quality assured programmes and qualifications in Hong Kong, including those offered by the self-accrediting publicly-funded universities.
Dorte Kristoffersen, executive director, HKCAAVQ
Time to get tough with cyberbullies
With the growth of the internet, cyberbullying has become a more serious problem affecting even younger victims. Too often, parents and teachers focus on academic results, but they cannot ignore the growing threat of cyberbullying.
Legislation is needed to outlaw cyberbullying, with heavy punishment for bullies. This can act as a deterrent.
Wong Hiu-man, Kwun Tong
Playgrounds should always stimulate kids
I agree with correspondents who have called for more interesting playgrounds to be designed in Hong Kong.
If the city’s playgrounds fail to attract children because they are dull, they do not serve their intended purpose.
New playgrounds must be creative and those already built should be subject to regular improvements so they meet the needs of children.
They need to be places that boys and girls find stimulating and fun to use.
Bobo Man Siu-ying, Tiu Keng Leng
Robots will be too pricey for many firms
It has been predicted that with robot technology developing at a rapid pace, robots will take over more jobs.
I think this could happen and in some sectors this could lead to high levels of unemployment. But many firms might hold back from greater automation, as the cost of coversion and associated overheads are so high.
While I can see some jobs being lost, I do not see robots replacing a lot of people in the workplace in the near future. As with all new technology, there is an upside and a downside to advances in robot technology.
Teresa Ng, Tseung Kwan O
Guard against false facts on the internet
We are all benefiting from new technology, such as computers, smartphones and artificial intelligence.
All this new technology brings many advantages. People can find information they need with just a few keystrokes. And computers do things error-free that, in the past, humans did more slowly and with some mistakes.
However, there is a downside. With the internet, teenagers and children have easier access to pornography. They can be victims of crimes such as cyberbullying. And, while we have access to so much more information, it is sometimes difficult to work out if that information is true or false.
While we should take full advantage of new technology and recognise that it improves quality of life, we should always be aware of the potential risks involved.
We need to be able to separate the good and accurate from the negative and outright false information.
Yuen Chung-yan, Yau Yat Chuen