Please pave an easier path for the students

The education system in Hong Kong has always been famous for its cramming and examination-oriented nature. In this top-down mechanism, entering university becomes the ultimate goal for most Hong Kong students. Yet, in recent years, the Joint University Programmes Admissions System has been beyond dispute an obstacle for these goal-seekers.

JUPAS started in 1990, aiming at simplifying students’ application procedures for various tertiary institutions. In other words, JUPAS was set up for the sake of the students. Ironically, the JUPAS Office is managed only by representatives from the seven tertiary institutions. Undoubtedly, tertiary institutions, rather than the students, are the main concern in policy making.

This was clearly reflected by the sudden change of results announcement day in August. According to the spokesperson of JUPAS office, the earlier-than-scheduled announcement was arranged for the students’ convenience. Yet, without proper and prompt notice in mass media, many students were not prepared for the early announcement. Some students even claimed that their ignorance prevented them from applying for other institutions immediately, and that their chances for being selected in the second round was lowered.

Another loophole is the application period. Under the current system, all students have to hand in their application forms once they enter Form 7. They do not know much about different departments in different institutions; nor can they assess their abilities because they have not sat for the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations. Some people believe this is to let the students choose their future according to their interest rather than the results. Yet, the policy greatly limits the students’ freedom. They cannot obtain enough information — their examination results — before making a very important choice. Is the education system in Hong Kong really so unreliable that even Form 7 students cannot make their own decision?

Moreover, the increasing places for tertiary education has led to a keen competition among different institutions in recent years. Many of them have shown interest in selecting students individually rather than on a collective basis. Some even broke the rules of game, which was unfair to the players.

History repeats itself. In coming months, the Form 7 students are going to choose the subjects they will study at university. The policy-makers should learn the lesson so that the students can achieve their goals easier and in a fairer way.