Is a degree still worth the time and money for Hong Kong students, when blue-collar jobs can pay more?
I refer to the letter from Michael Wong Wai Yu of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools (“Give more local pupils chance to enter university”, September 27).
Mr Wong pointed out that only about a quarter of candidates who stood out in the Hong Kong public examination could secure university places under the University Grants Committee scheme. However, if you take into account some alternative routes to tertiary education, these late bloomers could still stand a good chance of getting admitted to degree courses, if they were to study hard in associate degrees or higher diploma courses.
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But is a bachelor’s degree still worth the time and money? It’s not a comprehensive viewpoint to only look at the money potential itself, as the purpose of university education is not solely about training students to earn a higher salary after graduation. Even after spending or borrowing some HK$200,000 to get a degree, it may take a student several years or even a decade to repay all the debt, as an average university student can only earn about HK$15,000 per month.
Moreover, is our society still in need of such a large number of university graduates? As our society becomes more knowledge-based, we are facing a shortage of blue-collar employees, ranging from construction workers to drivers. If you look closely at their level of daily wages, you may be surprised, as they may even be making more money than those who went to university.
Yet, Hong Kong people still in general despise blue-collar work, and even mock those employed in such sectors as uneducated and dirty. This social stigmatisation discourages future generations from exploring employment routes other than getting a good grade in the Diploma of Secondary Education exam and fighting for a university degree.
John Yau, Kwun Tong