Why Hong Kong needs more funded university places and liberal studies should not be a gatekeeper
I refer to Michael Wong Wai Yu’s letter “Why are Hong Kong universities dashing the dreams of so many young people?” (September 27) and Andy Lau’s response “How university admission can be revamped to make Hong Kong more competitive” (October 5).
Self-financed post-secondary education has increased rapidly in the past decade, bringing the post-secondary participation rate to 70 per cent in 2015-16, including 45 per cent with access to degree-level education. Over the same period, the number of first-year places at publicly funded universities has increased by 500 to a mere total of 15,000.
The limited places at the eight publicly-funded universities has led to breakneck competition and widespread frustration among aspiring students. To give our talented students a better chance of getting into our top universities, especially the most sought-after programmes in medicine, law, business and finance, it is high time our government increases funding for undergraduate places in publicly funded universities.
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I agree there should be more flexible rules for admission. As Mr Wong and Mr Lau point out, three of the four core subjects – English, Chinese and liberal studies – privilege language skills. Actually few, if any of the most popular programmes, require liberal studies as core preparation. All of the top publicly funded universities teach general education or provide a “common core” programme for first-year students. University faculties teach liberal studies with much greater depth and precision. There is no need to make this a core subject for university admission.
Students should be required to take only three core subjects – Chinese, English and mathematics – and three other electives to suit their interests and university requirements for different disciplines.
Regina Ip, member, Legislative Council