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Universities in Hong Kong

HKU scores with tech boost, but could have timed it better for DSE students

  • HKU’s new admissions criteria will benefit students with special STEM talent but poor language skills. However, for many sitting the DSE in 2019, the announcement was too sudden
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 7:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 7:02am

I am writing in response to the article titled, “Good all-round grades no guarantee of a place at HKU” (December 2).

On November 3, an open day at the University of Hong Kong, officials announced a change in how they would evaluate Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) scores for admissions. According to a telephone survey by an education charity, 70 per cent of secondary school students supported the change, and believed it to be feasible. However, it was a bolt from the blue for many of those sitting the DSE next year.

The university highlighted how the change would benefit more scientifically inclined students who might fail in compulsory subjects like Chinese and liberal studies. Students with talents for specific subjects can take advantage of the change. Those with more all-round skills, however, might be forced to adopt a different strategy, as they have to excel in particular subjects in order to get bonus marks for entry to HKU, and might have to consider other universities.

Use STEM education to nurture change-makers, not test-takers

It is undeniable that the HKU decision could benefit the specialists, yet many respondents to the survey complained about the late announcement from HKU, where places are much sought-after as it has the highest international ranking among local peers. The new scoring system could require students to immerse themselves in two or three specific subjects, and HKU should have given much earlier notice to possible applicants so that they could make more comprehensive plans for revising. Announcing such a major change just a few months before the public exam would affect their study plans (“Why changes to HKU’s admission process are too much, too late”, December 5).

However, in view of Hong Kong’s lack of proficiency in STEM subjects, I support HKU’s new scoring system. Getting a 5** in STEM subjects, such as mathematics and physics, would give students an edge in their future careers.

Does rise of STEM spell the demise of the humanities?

According to reports, students with high grades in STEM subjects often see their overall grades dragged down by their poor showing in compulsory subjects including Chinese, English and liberal studies. The new scoring system would mean good grades in languages are no longer a must. This would improve the chances of STEM talents being offered university places and, in the long run, contribute to the development of the technology and innovation sector in Hong Kong.

Ivan Tsoi, Tseung Kwan O