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‘Fewer Hong Kong students will head to mainland China and Taiwan in next few years’, local charity predicts

Guidance counsellor at Hok Yau Club says as competition for university places eases, students will be more likely to study in the city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 6:25pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 11:19pm

The number of Hongkongers opting to study in Taiwan or mainland China will probably shrink over the next few years, a local educational NGO said on Sunday.

Hok Yau Club, a charity that gives educational guidance, said students were concerned that degrees from either place might not be well recognised upon their return to Hong Kong.

The group surveyed more than 1,100 Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) candidates – who are generally about 17 years of age – about tertiary education in January, using an online questionnaire. It found that 19 per cent of students surveyed considered enrolling in programmes on the mainland, a 2 per cent rise on last year.

A quarter said they were willing to study in Taiwan, but that was down from 33 per cent in 2016.

Among pupils who said they would not consider studying north of the border, about 39 per cent said they were worried that Hong Kong employers would not recognise a degree from the mainland. Of people uninterested in Taiwanese universities, 56 per cent voiced similar concern over programmes there.

Of those who expressed no interest in studying on the mainland, just under a third said that was because the living environment is worse there.

According to a Census Department estimate, about 7,000 Hongkongers were studying on the mainland last year.

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Ng Po-shing, director of the club’s student guidance centre, said even fewer students would be willing to study on the mainland or in Taiwan in the near future.

“In the past, the two regions have been favoured by students unable to secure a place at a local institution,” Ng said.

As the number of secondary school students will probably drop in the next few years, Ng said, more local students will stay and continue their studies at home due to reduced competition.

The HK$30,000 subsidy that the local government introduced last year for students enrolling in self-funded degree programmes has also made more students stay, he said.

The government estimated that about 13,000 students would benefit from the subsidy each year.

Meanwhile, on Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po’s budget plan to waive DSE entry fees next year, Ng said it could cause people to sign up and not turn up, or take the test without much preparation, lowering the quality of the assessment, which includes group tests. He said that could lead to stress for full-time students, but that the impact would probably be minimal.

Instead of waiving fees for all, he suggested the government only pay for full-time students.

In a television interview on Sunday, Chan conceded there were public concerns about waiving the fees.

“I know that ... some parents ... may be a bit concerned about the implementation details, but I urge them not to worry. In terms of implementation, we will definitely ensure that the interests of school pupils have precedence,” he said. “There should be no problem.”