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Universities in Hong Kong

City University third in Hong Kong to roll out more flexible entry conditions for students with good overall grades

Move comes after similar measures by Chinese University and HKUST amid long-standing criticism of system said to shut out those not strong in language skills

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 10:34pm

Another Hong Kong university on Saturday joined two other institutions in the city in relaxing entry requirements for students with outstanding examination results but who scored just slightly under the qualifying mark in certain subjects.

The move by City University in Kowloon Tong came after Chinese University and the University of Science and Technology revised their admission schemes on the same premise. For Chinese University in particular, the aim was to provide more chances for students who excelled in science and mathematics – in line with the city’s push for innovation and technology – but scored below the mark in other subjects.

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CityU announced students who failed to meet its so-called benchmark of 332233 – the levels required for six subjects respectively: Chinese, English, maths, liberal studies and two electives – in the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams, could still be considered for a spot if they fulfilled other conditions.

DSE exam results span a seven-level system: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5* and 5**.

In CityU’s case, students with one subject result falling a level below the minimum mark, but with an average score of 5* in the other five subjects, can still qualify for a place if they have opted for the university as one of their top three choices in the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS).

JUPAS is the platform through which students who have taken the DSE examinations apply for admission to local universities.

“We will let the department concerned consider [the application], and after an evaluation by the Admissions Committee, students may be offered a place under JUPAS,” said Emily Cheng Kwong Kit-ching, CityU’s admissions office director, adding that the revised policy would apply to all courses on campus.

Cheng said the school’s new measure was not targeting students who did not do well in Chinese or English subjects, as it could apply to any of the other four.

“But when you look at statistics given by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, a majority of students did miss the mark in language subjects,” she added.

Cheng said she expected that the number of students entering the university under the new scheme would still be limited to be fair to other applicants.

At present, students vying for a place in a publicly funded university in the city must meet requirements for four DSE core subjects – a level 3 for Chinese and English and 2 for maths and liberal studies.

This year, just over 42 per cent – or 21,264 students – of full-day school candidates taking the DSE exams made the cut for some 15,000 places.

Because three of the four core subjects are heavy in language skills, critics have said the system denies a university education to students who excel in non-core electives or other non-language-based subjects.

Tsui Lap-chee, former president of the University of Hong Kong, weighed in on the issue last year, suggesting such requirements would make students focus less on social sciences and advanced maths.

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He cautioned this would give rise to a dearth in successive talent for scientific research in Hong Kong.

Last month, two local universities took the lead on the matter, as the city pushed for a focus on STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – in the education system.

Chinese University in Sha Tin announced that if students applying to its science faculty or engineering school had taken three STEM electives in the DSE exams and managed a score of 5* for all, or at least one 5** and a 5*, they would be considered if they failed to meet the current entry requirements for the four core subjects.

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Meanwhile, the University of Science and Technology, which also has an admission benchmark of “332233”, has adopted a wider approach. The Sai Kung institution said students who scored a grade under the mark in one of the six subjects could still be considered for its programmes, if they managed an average grade of 5* in their best five subjects.

But to get a chance to enter either of the two schools, students must put the university courses under higher priority in JUPAS.

Meanwhile, Polytechnic University in Hung Hom is also planning for more flexible entry requirements and details are expected in December.