LCQ18: Hong Kong students studying in the Mainland

     Following is a question by the Hon Lam Tai-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):


     Mr Li Keqiang, Vice-Premier of the State Council, announced during his visit to Hong Kong in August this year that starting from 2012, students from Hong Kong will be exempted from taking the National Education Examinations Authority, People's Republic of China Joint Entrance Examination for Universities in PRC (JEE), and they can apply directly for admission to some mainland universities using their results in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the authorities have compiled statistics on the number of Hong Kong students attending primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions and universities on the Mainland; if they have, of the respective numbers in the past three years; if not, the reasons for that, and whether they will compile the relevant statistics;

(b) of the number of enquiries received in each of the past three years by government departments or offices of the Hong Kong SAR Government on the Mainland relating to Hong Kong students who intended to study on the Mainland;

(c) of the number of requests for assistance received in each of the past three years by government departments or offices of the Hong Kong SAR Government on the Mainland from Hong Kong students studying on the Mainland;

(d) whether it knows the names and other details (including the relevant undergraduate programmes and the number of places offered, etc.) of the mainland universities which will accept Hong Kong students who will be exempted to take JEE for admission to these universities from 2012 onwards; if it does not have such information at present, of the expected time when the details can be announced;

(e) given that local university places have long been inadequate and thus every year there are as many as thousands of secondary school-leavers who meet the basic requirements for admission to universities but could not be admitted to any university, whether the Government will dovetail with the aforesaid initiative of the Central Government and consider providing subsidies in the form of education vouchers for these school-leavers to pursue further studies at universities on the Mainland or overseas; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(f) whether government departments and public organisations in Hong Kong will recognise the academic qualifications awarded by mainland universities as equivalent to those awarded by local universities when they are recruiting staff and, with regard to the same position, apply the same application requirements and assessment criteria to graduates of mainland universities and those of local universities; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(g) whether it has any plan to encourage private organisations to accord greater recognition to academic qualifications awarded by mainland universities as well as mainland professional qualifications when they are recruiting staff; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(h) whether it has any plan to further strengthen the implementation of the mutual recognition mechanism regarding academic and professional qualifications between Hong Kong and the Mainland; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(i) whether the Government will introduce corresponding policies or measures to dovetail with the aforesaid new initiative of the Central Government; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) The Government does not maintain statistics on the number of Hong Kong students currently attending primary and secondary schools, post-secondary institutions and universities in the Mainland. Nevertheless, according to the 2006 Population By-census conducted by the Census and Statistics Department, there were about 18 700 Hong Kong permanent residents studying full-time courses in the Mainland that year. Among them, about 9 600 were aged above 16, mostly studying post-secondary courses, and the remaining 9 100 were aged 16 or below, mostly studying courses at secondary level or below.  The 2011 Population Census recently completed by the Government will provide updated data on Hong Kong residents studying full-time courses in the Mainland. We do not have statistics or maintain records of the number of Hong Kong residents studying part-time courses in the Mainland.

(b) The Government does not have statistics on the number of enquiries relating to Hong Kong students intending to study in the Mainland.  This notwithstanding, the Mainland Offices of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (the Mainland Offices) have from time to time received general enquiries concerning plans to study in specific Mainland institutions, but there are no separate records on this type of enquiries. The Mainland Offices will provide the enquirers with contact details of the relevant institutions as appropriate, so as to facilitate them in obtaining the required information.

(c) The Mainland Offices will provide assistance to Hong Kong residents seeking help in the Mainland as far as practicable, in accordance with the actual circumstances of each case, regardless of whether they are students or not.

     According to information available, the Mainland Offices have received 37 cases since 2009 involving assistance sought by Hong Kong residents studying in the Mainland, as tabulated below:

     Year                   Number of Cases
     ----                   ---------------
     2009                          7
     2010                         20
     2011(up to October)          10

(d) In August this year, the Central People's Government announced that starting from 2012, a pilot scheme would be implemented whereby some Mainland universities would exempt Hong Kong students from taking the Joint Entrance Examination for Universities in the People's Republic of China (PRC) for Overseas Chinese, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Students, and would admit Hong Kong students based on their results in local public examinations.  In late September this year, officials from the Ministry of Education, together with representatives of some institutions to be covered by the scheme, conducted a study in Hong Kong to prepare for the implementation of the scheme in 2012. Based on the findings of the study, the relevant Mainland authorities are now working out the implementation details of the scheme, including the admission criteria, procedures and schedule, etc.  Details of the scheme, once finalised, will be announced as soon as practicable.

(e) Currently, the Government has no plan to provide subsidies in the form of education voucher for Hong Kong students to pursue further studies at universities in the Mainland or overseas. This notwithstanding, the Government has all along attached great importance to the development of post-secondary education, and is committed to providing flexible, diversified and multiple-entry multiple-exit study pathways for young people.  In this regard, our policy is to promote the parallel development of the publicly-funded sector and the self-financing sector.

     Regarding publicly-funded programmes, the Chief Executive announced in his Policy Address last year that publicly-funded first-degree intake places would be increased to 15 000 for each cohort from 2012, and senior year intake places would be doubled to 4 000 each year. As for self-financing post-secondary education, we have implemented a series of support measures which include granting sites to institutions at nominal premium, offering interest-free loans to institutions for constructing new premises; providing financial assistance to students; and establishing a Self-financing Post-secondary Education Fund this year with a total commitment of $2.5 billion to provide scholarships and support institutions in enhancing quality and strengthening quality assurance. Through policy support and the concerted efforts of institutions, the number of self-financing degree-awarding institutions has increased to six, and the number of self-financing degree places will increase progressively in the coming years.

     Based on information provided by institutions, we estimate that over 70 000 places at post-secondary level will be provided in 2012. Together with a total of about 40 000 places offered by the new Project Yi Jin, vocational education or training programmes and other programmes, the estimated places will more or less be able to meet the demand from around 100 000 students in the double cohort year.

     We envisage that by 2015, over one-third of our young people in the relevant age group will have the opportunity to pursue degree-level education. Including sub-degree places, over two-thirds of our young people will have access to post-secondary education.

(f) and (g) In accordance with the prevailing policy on civil service appointments, qualification requirements for civil service posts are normally set with reference to qualifications obtainable under the local education system or from local institutions.  Candidates holding non-local qualifications, including those awarded by Mainland institutions, may also apply for civil service posts. Their qualifications will be subject to individual assessment and they will be considered for appointment if their qualifications are assessed as being comparable in standard to the entry qualification requirements of the posts being applied for. Under the existing mechanism, the Civil Service Bureau will seek the advice of the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ), which is its principal advisor on qualifications assessment, and where necessary, other relevant education authorities. As for other public organisations, they formulate their own appointment policies.

     Recognition of individual qualifications is essentially a matter for the users to decide. In general, it is up to individual employers (in both the public and private sectors) or professional bodies to decide whether a particular qualification obtained by an applicant should be regarded as meeting the requirements for filling the relevant job position or membership registration. As regards educational qualifications awarded by granting bodies outside Hong Kong, the applicants of these qualifications would normally seek the assessment of the HKCAAVQ. This notwithstanding, decisions as to whether or not to accept particular qualifications for employment and registration purposes still rest with the employer or body.

(h) To promote co-operation between the Mainland and Hong Kong in education and student exchanges, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Mutual Recognition of Academic Degrees in Higher Education (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Education and the then Education and Manpower Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in July 2004. The MoU facilitates the mutual recognition of academic qualifications awarded in both places for the purpose of further studies in recognised Mainland and Hong Kong higher education institutions with powers to award degrees at Bachelor's level or above. The list of recognised higher education institutions in both places are attached as Annex to the MoU and updated regularly. Since 2005, the HKCAAVQ has adopted the MoU as an internal reference for assessing qualifications awarded by the Mainland institutions.

     Regarding mutual recognition of professional qualifications, the Mainland and Hong Kong are committed to enhancing the access of Hong Kong professional services to the Mainland market under the framework of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). We also encourage professional bodies of both sides to pursue mutual recognition of professional qualifications and to foster exchanges among professional and technical talents.

     Under the framework of CEPA, Hong Kong and the Mainland actively promote exchanges among professionals of the two places. This includes allowing Hong Kong professionals to take Mainland qualification examinations to obtain relevant professional qualifications in the Mainland. At present, people from over 40 Hong Kong professional or technical disciplines under various service sectors can sit for the professional qualification examinations in the Mainland. At the same time, under CEPA, Hong Kong and the Mainland have reached agreements or arrangements on mutual recognition of various professional qualifications in the construction, securities and futures, accounting and real estate sectors.

     The Government will continue to pursue mutual recognition of professional qualifications under the CEPA framework, and will continue to maintain close liaison and communication with various professional bodies, and encourage them to have exchanges with their Mainland counterparts.

(i) We welcome the Mainland's recognition of the New Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education and the qualifications of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. This will not only provide an alternate route for Hong Kong students and relieve their pressure in getting entry into universities, but also help them in their career development in the Mainland or Hong Kong in the future and nurture talent for our country. We hope to announce the details of the pilot scheme by the end of 2011 for implementation in early 2012 with a view to relieving the demand for university places in Hong Kong in the double cohort year of 2012.

Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:19