Talking points: should students have to pay to sit public exams?

Talking points: should students have to pay to sit public exams?

Hate it when you can’t talk back? Well, you can with Young Post. Have your say and share with students around Hong Kong

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Financial Secretary Paul Chan's latest budget might pay the fees for the next DSE. But is it a good thing?
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

Sunny Chak Hon-hang, 18, Workers’ Children Secondary School

I think public exams should be free for students. The first reason is nobody would deny that free public exams will ease students’ financial burdens and would ensure an equal opportunity for every candidate to sit a public exam.

Secondly the fee waiver would encourage more self-study students to sit the public exams, which could be a double-edged sword. Self-study students sit a public exam for a wide variety of reasons, but some may maliciously want to disturb the exams for others.

Hannah Faith Chak, 15, PLK Wu Chung College

According to the 2018-19 Budget, the government would “pay the examination fee for the candidates sitting for the 2019 Hong Kong DSE examination.” However, I think it’s not a good idea. This will attract unwanted candidates who just want to have some fun. They may take away a full-time student’s chances of getting a higher mark. To both help the full-time students and prevent unwanted candidates, the government should pay the fee for some candidates who really need to take the exam. To sort out the private candidates, restrictions should be set. For example, if candidates didn’t meet the basic requirements for university entrance (3322) in the past exams, they should be permitted to take the DSE for free.


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Hung Tsz-ching, 14, Tin Shui Wai Methodist College

I think students shouldn’t have to pay to sit public exams. It can reduce stress about economic problems. I think they will study better because they have less pressure and they can spend more effort on studying. The government should help students with this financial burden.

Cici Tse, 16, Fukien Secondary School

Students should definitely be charged to sit the public exam. Resources are needed to prepare a set of test papers. For example, the government needs to find experts to set the questions, as well as to mark them after the examination. Students need to be responsible for these charges, or it will create an economic burden for other organisations.


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Judy Cheung, 15, Fung Kai Liu Man Shek Tong Secondary School

I think students should definitely pay to sit public exams. It is because if you need to pay, you won’t want to waste your money. Then, you will try your best to do your exam. On the other hand, if you are not going to do the exams, you would not join it. The government will not waste money on the students who aren’t trying their hardest. On the other hand, I do think that the government can design a scheme to assist the students who do have a financial need.

Miko Wong Wing-man, 15, PLK Ma Kam Ming College

Absolutely! Public exams are very important for students. They don’t just get a certificate; their future may depend on the exam results. For example, students need to get good HKDSE results to get into university. If public exams are “free”, they may suffer in terms of their recognition around the world.

Also, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority pays people to mark each DSE paper. It would be a waste of time and money, if there were students who weren’t taking the exam seriously.


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Bobo Cheung Hok-yu, 16, Ma On Shan Tsung Tsin Secondary School

Definitely! Every year, there are lots of students who sit the HKDSE exams. The government has to spend a lot of money for the exams – for example, the cost of paper and printing, and payment for markers.

It’s not like the fees are all that expensive, especially when you consider how much a public exam will affect a student’s life. It’s worth paying for – and if a student has to pay for it, then they are more likely to take it seriously.

Terry Tang, 17, Kwok Tak Seng Catholic Secondary School

Yes, students should pay to sit public exams. The cost of conducting a public exam is huge. You need to set the questions, you have to book examiners, and you have to hire people to mark the papers. So students should be prepared to pay a fee to sit an exam.

It would be fairer on all the students, results-wise, if they have to pay. Think about it – if the exam was free, then anyone could take it. This includes those who might drag the top scorers down and those who would push up the results of average students. Paying for the exam would screen out some of these people.


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Esther Choy Lok-yiu, 15, PAOC Ka Chi Secondary School

I agree that many people will benefit from the HKDSE exam fee waiver. But if students don’t have to pay to sit the HKDSE, then I think lots of Hongkongers will try to sit the exam whether they need the certificate or not. Then those who are studying very hard to get a good result might be affected.

More examiners and markers will also have to be hired to check the papers, because the number of candidates would increase. Did the government think about the cost before deciding to waive the exam fees?


In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

Should cosmetic surgery be banned for anyone under 18?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to yp@scmp.com by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Talking points: should students have to pay to sit public exams?

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