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Common Descriptors of Associate Degree and Higher Diploma Programmes announced

     The following press release is issued by the Education Bureau (EDB)/Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ)/Joint Quality Assurance Committee (JQRC) Tripartite Liaison Committee (TLC):

     The Education Bureau/Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications/Joint Quality Assurance Committee Tripartite Liaison Committee today (January 16) announced the updated Common Descriptors for the Associate Degree programmes, and the new Common Descriptors for the Higher Diploma programmes.

     The promulgation of the Common Descriptors helps to enhance the quality and transparency of the self-financing post-secondary education sector. It also helps to provide clear delineation between Associate Degree and Higher Diploma, which are different yet valuable qualifications.

     The Common Descriptors are drawn up following wide consultation with the sub-degree providers and stakeholders concerned.  Under the Common Descriptors, the minimum entrance requirements of the Associate Degree and Higher Diploma programmes are clearly set out.  Providers can admit students falling short of the minimum entrance requirements based on special consideration such as school results, artistic or sporting talent.  The quota for special admission is set at 5% on a programme basis and 3% on an institutional basis.  The quota requirement will take effect from the 2009-10 academic year.

     The Common Descriptors require providers to submit annual returns on quality-related matters, including admission data, to the concerned quality assurance bodies (i.e. HKCAAVQ or JQRC). The quality assurance bodies will take into account compliance with the Common Descriptors when conducting validation or revalidation exercises.

     The Associate Degree programmes put more emphasis on equipping students with generic skills and knowledge, while the Higher Diploma programmes put more focus on industry/professional-specific skills and knowledge.  To allow sufficient time for providers to redesign their programmes, the Tripartite Liaison Committee encourages providers to start labelling the programmes and modules as generic or specific in nature from 2009-10 if possible.  Generic courses may include languages, IT and general education, while specialised learning may include concentration studies and vocational training. Starting from the 2010/11 academic year, at least 60% of the curriculum of Associate Degree programmes should consist of generic content, and at least 60% of the curriculum of Higher Diploma programmes should consist of specialised content.

     Details of the Common Descriptors can be viewed via the EDB website of

     The EDB released the Report of the Phase Two Review of the Post-secondary Education Sector in April 2008.  The report sets out a clear policy direction to promote the long-term sustainable development of the self-financing post-secondary education sector and makes a series of recommendations aiming to promote quality enhancement of the sector. The establishment of the Tripartite Liaison Committee is one of the recommendations of the report.

Ends/Friday, January 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 16:58


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