A plan to scrap a popular part-time associate degree programme in social work from September has angered many students and social workers, who staged a protest against the decision yesterday.
The course, offered by City University, admits around 70 students a year and will be stopped this September. The programme’s website states that new students will only be accepted for the full-time course for the 2016-17 academic year.
CityU staff and council member Fung Wai-wah said the university decided to stop the self-financing part-time programme after the Social Workers Registration Board last year advised it to improve the programme’s teacher-student ratio, which had been below the board’s requested level.
Fung said CityU, with reserves of more than HK$900 million, decided to stop the programme, believing it would lose money by hiring more teachers.
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“This shows the college is treating its associate degree programmes as a business,” said Fung.
Social welfare sector legislator Peter Cheung Kwok-che said he was worried that scrapping the programme would deprive the sector of a group of highly motivated future social workers. He added that the industry faced a serious shortage of devoted social workers.
Cheung said part-time associate degree programmes usually attract those who started work early without continuing their education but still had a great passion for the programmes they chose.
“We are very much against this decision,” said Cheung.
Fung said although the Hong Kong College of Technology and Caritas Institute of Higher Education both offer similar part-time social work programmes, the one offered by CityU was more popular because of the university’s reputation.