One reason Jason Ng opted to apply for the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Bachelor of Engineering programme in 2014 was the chance for extracurricular experiential learning. “I have participated in the Mingde Project, which mobilises volunteers to help design and build schools and community centres in remote rural areas in Guangxi province,” says Ng, now a third year student of civil engineering. Last year, he was nominated by HKU for a scholarship sponsored by HSBC and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups for a 10-week internship at the Development Bureau, which he later won. His mentor was Hong Kong’s permanent secretary of development, Ir Hon Chi-keung. The internship also included attachments to several government departments. “The experience enhanced my knowledge and network,” Ng says. “It has also helped me to analyse different infrastructure projects’ objectives.” Claudius Chan, a third year student of HKU’s Bachelor of Nursing programme, agrees that learning outside the classroom can be really inspiring. “I’ve enjoyed the community healthcare practicum experience where students are accompanied by seasoned nurses and social workers,” Chan says. The experience involved visiting community centres, senior citizens living alone, retirement homes, and workshops for the handicapped. “I saw that nursing goes beyond clinics and hospitals and touches many levels of the community. We also collaborated with other professionals, including social workers and physiotherapists, and learned to develop tailor-made rehabilitation programmes for individual clients. It was great exposure,” he adds. HKU’s programmes in engineering and nursing are highly popular with JUPAS applicants. For the 2016 academic year, the respective intakes were 443 and 190 students, similar to last year’s numbers, according to Vanessa Li, senior programme manager for the admissions and academic liaison section, registry at HKU. “Students are practical in selecting programmes. They aspire to become professionals,” Li says. This year the median admission score for HKDSE students in the engineering course was 25; for nursing it was 24. The lowest scores were 22 and 23, respectively. “The minimum entrance requirement for nursing has been relaxed slightly to encourage students from the arts stream to apply,” Li says. programme offers an extra course in biology, to assist students entering from a non-science background, she adds. The Bachelor of Engineering is a four-year programme, with students selecting their major after Year One. HKU collaborates with universities around the world to offer study-abroad opportunities. Civil engineering graduates usually go on to take the Scheme “A” training overseen by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. This leads to the designation of fully-licensed engineers after three-plus years of further study or approved work experience. The Bachelor of Nursing is a five-year programme, with heavy emphasis on clinical practice. It gives students many opportunities to learn under the instruction and supervision of experienced teachers in all aspects of nursing. The clinical practicum, which begins in the second year, is arranged in blocks to let students consolidate lessons and skills. The nursing department also runs exchange programmes with multiple overseas universities. Interviews are a mandatory part of both admissions processes. Engineering prospects attend group interviews conducted in English in June. “We look for proficiency in English, knowledge of current affairs, logical thinking, and interpersonal skills in a group setting,” Li says. Nursing applicants are invited to attend an information session held in June. Attendees are split into groups to assess how well they participate in exchanges and interact with teachers and peers. “Candidates should take the initiative to speak and ask questions,” Li says. “They should come prepared with personal information and be ready to explain why they are interested in their preferred programme. They should be up to date with current affairs and are expected to have their own opinions. During interviews, students should avoid being too aggressive and not try to dominate the discussion.” After graduation, the mean basic entry-level salary for nurses in 2014 was over $24,000. For civil engineering graduates it was between $16,000 and $18,000. Fascinated by construction since secondary school, Ng resolved to apply for engineering after receiving advice from HKU students on the university’s information day. He says he has had many memorable experiences throughout his time in the programme, including the Mingde project, which brought together HKU professors, a Shanghai-based architectural firm, and a contractor in Shenzhen. “I joined the project in Year One,” he says. “We visited the sites in Guangxi during holidays and worked on the feasibility study. That allowed us to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom. I have been involved in the designing of buildings, which are currently under construction. It has been a fantastic experience. I’ve been able to to work with more senior engineering students and learn from them throughout the process.” The strong alumni network was another big draw for Ng. Since starting, he has enrolled in various mentorship programmes, giving him the chance to interact with many HKU graduates who are professionals in the field. The faculty helps to pair up mentors and protégés based on availability and need. Regarding career goals, Ng is open-minded. “I’ll be on an exchange programme at University College London next semester,” he says. “Hopefully, I will get an internship in London because I want more opportunities to explore different options.” Meanwhile, Chan has been enjoying his cross-discipline case-study projects, which started in Year Two. They involve contact with other students studying in the traditional Chinese medicine, pharmacy, nursing, medicine and surgery programmes. “Students from different disciplines discuss cases and work on solutions together,” Chan says. “It is a fabulous opportunity for us to integrate specific expertise from various disciplines.” Chan is looking forward to taking a course on Chinese medicine, a subject which has become increasingly popular in Hong Kong. “I’d like to learn to work with doctors of Chinese medicine and look at the discipline from the point of view of western medicine,” Chan says. “After graduation, I plan to work as a registered nurse. I’m interested in the accident and emergency department where nurses and doctors have equal participation in assessing the condition of patients and making decisions. Later on, I may also consider pursuing a master’s degree to become a specialist in certain areas of nursing,” he explains.