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HKDSE - Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education

Competition for Hong Kong public university places hots up as DSE exam results announced

Number of candidates making the cut for university places up on last year, with one star student achieving results never seen before in the city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 10:10pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 9:48pm

Hong Kong youngsters hoping to pursue a degree at the city’s public universities will face tougher competition this year, as more candidates made the cut for undergraduate places than last year.

Among the 50,447 full-day school candidates getting their Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) results slips on Wednesday were six boys and three girls who got the top grade of 5** for seven or more subjects. There were six of these top scorers in total last year.

This year’s top performer got 5** for eight subjects and an extended module in maths, a feat never achieved before, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) said on Tuesday as it revealed the highlights from this year’s main college entrance exam.

Just over 42 per cent – or 21,264 of these students – made the cut for the 15,000 places in publicly funded degree programmes, up from 20,885 last year, when there were a few hundred more students who took the exam.

This meant they got at least a score of three for Chinese and English, and two for maths and liberal studies, on the DSE’s seven-level grading scale.

But Dr So Kwok-sang, secretary general of the HKEAA, cautioned students against thinking that grades were all that mattered.

“When universities consider admissions, they will consider the respective programme requirements and also the other attributes, qualifications and achievements of the candidate in addition to DSE results,” he said.

Earlier, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor sought to assure those getting their results that they would have sufficient options for tertiary education.

There were about 70,000 public and private programmes – spanning Bachelor’s degrees, sub-degrees and vocational courses – available in the city, she said.

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“Overall, there are enough options for all secondary school graduates and I hope they can continue to follow their needs and further their studies” she said, adding that there were also non-means-tested subsidies for students keen on taking private degree courses.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said he was heartened that more students had met the basic criteria to enter local universities, adding that they now had more opportunities to pursue higher education, with more considering universities on the mainland or in Taiwan.

In terms of subject performance, more students scored at least three in English and Chinese, and two for maths than before, but their performance was slightly poorer in liberal studies. The subject is meant to encourage students to think critically about current affairs, but has been criticised by pro-Beijing politicians as a means by which teachers impart political biases.

Seventeen pupils with special education needs attained 5** for two subjects or above.

In less positive news, there were two candidates caught cheating this year, one more than last year, while three plagiarised for school-based assessments or portfolios, up from one the previous year.

Margaret Hui, general manager for school examinations and assessment at HKEAA, noted that it was the first time a candidate was disqualified for all the subjects they sat, as they were caught with a large amount of notes during an exam for one subject.

The youngest candidate this year was aged 11, while the oldest was 66.