China has become an increasingly popular destination for higher education. More than 3,500 local students applied to mainland universities last year, accounting for about six per cent of some 62,200 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam candidates. Young Post asked Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre director Ng Po-shing for some tips on how to make a more strategic application.
There are quite a few routes into mainland universities. Ng says the most popular one is the Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions. This scheme means applicants don’t need to take the National College Entrance Examination. But you must hold a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card or a Hong Kong Identity Card; and also a valid “Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents” whose expiration date should be valid throughout the period of your preferred programmes. For 2017 intake, you must take next year’s DSE exam. This means that the scheme does not include applicants who took the HKCEE or HKALE, or HKDSE between 2012 and 2016.
Online applications usually open in early March. You should apply via the Education Examinations Authority of Guangdong Province by clicking on “Hong Kong Students Application” under the menu “Joint Admission” (Chinese version only). Some 84 institutions were involved in this scheme in 2016, including Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan universities. You have to narrow it down to four institutions; and for each institution, you can select four programmes.
Uploading your Other Learning Experiences (OLE), Student Learning Profile (SLP) and School Principal’s Nominations (SPN) is optional, but these documents can be a useful reference for universities in the admission process. Refer back to the website to check whether or not you have been given an offer.
After applying online, you must visit China Education Exchange (Hong Kong) Centre Limited for an identity check. The Education Bureau regularly updates their website with information on application procedures and the deadlines of the different stages.
Ng says there is a huge difference between the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (Jupas) and the mainland admission scheme. Through Jupas, getting a place depends on your DSE results, and those with the highest scores are the first ones offered a place. However, the mainland admission scheme is based on the priority of your university choices, although they will still look at your DSE results. For example, if you put Peking University as your first choice, as long as you meet the minimum entry requirements, they are likely to offer you a place. Putting a university as your first choices means you are given priority even above those who have higher DSE scores, if those people put the university as their second choice, for example. You are initially accepted to the university, and they will then assign you to a programme based on your preferred choices.
A total of 19 local students enrolled at Peking University in 2015. Of those students, the highest DSE score was four 5** and two 5*, while the lowest was two 5*, three 5 and one 4.
Ng says you can put your favourite university as your first choice, but use your other choices carefully. “The university that people put for their first choice can be very competitive and hard to get into [for example, you might need to score level five or above in six DSE subjects]. If your expected grades are only level three or above in four subjects, you should select less competitive programmes as your second choice. Your third and last choices serve as a backup that will secure you an offer. Visit the Education Bureau website for the general entrance requirements of different mainland universities.
Ng says some students will choose the Joint Entrance Exam For Universities. Each applicant can select almost 300 mainland institutions which will admit you based on your exam results. Core exam subjects include Chinese language, English language and mathematics, while the other two subjects depend on the programmes you apply for. Visit the Examinations and Assessment Authority website for more information.
The admission procedure is based on your results. For example, the admission score for Xiamen University in 2015 was 530 (out of a total of 750; each subject is worth a total of 150).
Some universities also have independent admission procedures. For example, some top colleges, such as Tsinghua, Peking and Fudan universities offer a limited number of places for students with outstanding DSE results. Huaqiao University in Fujian province and Jinan University in Guangdong province will exempt students from their entrance examinations if you get 12 scores in five DSE subjects, even though their admission procedures will look at your DSE results.
If you’re serious about studying on the mainland, there are a few things you need to seriously consider before applying. The first is your ability to master the medium of instruction at mainland universities. “Bear in mind most programmes are taught in Putonghua. Simplified Chinese characters are also used in most learning materials. It takes time to adapt to the medium of instruction, especially if you come from an English-medium secondary school.”
Adjusting to life on the mainland could be a problem too, Ng says.
“You have to think about whether you can ‘survive’ without some social media platforms like Facebook. But treat it as a valuable learning experience as you’ll be exposed to people from different cultures and learning backgrounds.”
The old question: Will the graduates with mainland qualifications be recognised in the city?
Under the Mutual Recognition of Academic Degrees in Higher Education on the mainland and Hong Kong, university graduates from both places will have their qualifications recognised. But, Ng adds, they will also look at how well you did on your course, particularly if you are applying for a post-graduate course.
Don’t forget to get your qualifications accredited by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications, especially if you apply for a civil servant position. You will also need to sit exams conducted by any local or international professional licensing bodies if you want to work as a registered doctor, nurse, dentist, physiotherapist, accountant or any other profession.