You get your HKDSE results back, and you add them up. Your hopes sink, because you’ve only just scraped by – level 3s in Chinese language and English language, and level 2s for maths and liberal studies and your chosen elective. These results mean you’ve only just met the minimum entry requirements for any of the eight government-funded universities in Hong Kong, and you have every chance of being bumped off their courses for people with higher grades. What will you do if you lose your place at uni?
If you’re not interested in choosing an associate degree, a higher diploma programme or in studying overseas, then a non-Jupas self-financed bachelor’s degree programme might be the way to go. Ng Po-shing, the Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre’s director, has some advice on what to look for when selecting the right programme.
Ng says you should be considering whether or not you’ve done enough to get the grades, even you’re doing the exams.
“You’ll know yourself how well you’ve done – and timing is important when it comes to applying. Have a backup plan, because you might not get the results you expect,” he says.
Most institutions that offer self-financed bachelor’s degree programmes will want you to have at least 3322 in Chinese language, English language, maths and liberal studies, and a level 2 in your chosen elective. If you are studying an applied learning subject (ApL) instead of an elective, double-check with the institutions what their admission grades are, as they’ll vary.
For example, the Hang Seng Management College (HSMC), Hong Kong Shue Yan University (HKSYU) and School of Continuing Education, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU-SCE) requires at least an “Attained with Distinction” in one ApL. The Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine programme (2019 intake) at CityU calls for very good grades in English, chemistry and maths. Students taking further science subjects, such as biology and physics, are also more likely to get in.
Ng suggests applying for one or two programmes that you’re interested in if you think your results are unlikely to net you a university place. He adds that, when applying for a self-financed bachelor’s degree programme, you’ll need to pay an application fee and an enrolment deposit. The application fee varies, but the enrolment deposit is capped at HK$5,000.
He adds that most institutions will refund the deposit if you accept a full-time government-funded bachelor’s degree’s offer from JUPAS, or if you end up in an undergraduate programme under the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors (SSSDP).
“July 12 is when the tentative HKDSE results are released. The deadline for paying enrolment fees for most institutions will be noon on July 17. Remember, you’ve got to start planning for any situation. You won’t be in the best state of mind to make rational decisions if you don’t get the scores you want, and you won’t be at your best during your admission interviews,” Ng says.
It’s worth looking at officially accredited programmes. This means you can pursue further study at universities in the city or take up a civil servant position after you graduate from the course. The Information Portal for Accredited Post-secondary Programmes (iPASS) has a list of accredited programmes. The courses on the list have been assessed by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications.
However, remember to check to see if your preferred course offers local or international professional recognition, and if it’s recognised by the government, or any local or international professional licensing bodies.
For example, HSMC’s BBA Programme (Honours), with a major in Banking and Finance Concentration, is accredited by Hong Kong Institute of Bankers, Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong, Society of Actuaries and CFA Institute. Graduates of the Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) in Accountancy programme at HKBU-SCE can register as students for the HKICPA’s Qualification Programme (QP), which is a step towards qualifying as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Hong Kong. People who graduate from the Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) programme at Shue Yan University will be able to apply to be a Registered Social Worker (RSW) with the Social Workers Registration Board (category 1).
Ng says the best thing to do is when picking a programme is to go with what interests you. “Deciding what to pick is hard, but just listen to your heart. Make a choice based on your strengths and interests. Self-financed bachelor’s degree programmes can be pricy, so don’t commit three years of your life and throw away money needlessly on the wrong programme.”