In the recently released
Review Report of Post-Secondary Education Sector,
the participation rate in post-secondary education
is 66%, surpassing the 60% target set by the government
in 2000 to be met in the year 2010.
In view of this progress, the government recommended
that self-financing programs should continue to
play a key role in driving and sustaining the
development of this sector. Moreover, it was recommended
that the government should continue to promote
both Higher Diploma (HD) and Associate Degree
(AD) as alternative progression pathways leading
to qualifications at comparable academic level,
and that more emphasis should now be put on consolidation
of the sub-degree sector, development of articulation
pathways, and quality enhancement at all levels.
Beneath this apparent "success" in
the development of post-secondary education sector
in recent years, however, lie two basic problems
that cause anxiety among the sub-degree program
students, in particular AD students : articulation
and financial burden.
As all of the AD programs are self-financed,
students have to pay for their own tuition fee,
which is higher than the University Grant Committee
(UGC) funded programs. It is common that AD students
have to do several part-time jobs to support themselves,
as their families may not be able to do so.
Another frustration students face when they graduate
from the AD program is the limited articulation
places (in particular those UGC-funded ones) provided
for them. This becomes a double jeopardy. On one
hand, their AD status do not privilege them over
other applicants when they apply for a job, as
this education attainment is not readily accepted
by employers. On the other hand, as they only
have a slim chance to enroll for an UGC-funded
degree program, the only alternative is to apply
for self-financed top-up degree programs, which
adds further financial burden on them.
The government should take up the responsibility
to provide sufficient articulation places for
AD graduates with the tuition fee at an affordable
level. Otherwise, the development of the post-secondary
education sector will only create a "Diverted
Dream" for students, one that is seemingly
progressive but in reality a dead-end.