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Newsletter for international Higher Education Sector on the update of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education - Issue 1

Welcome to the fourth issue of the HKDSE newsletter, which provides information on the progress of the new HKDSE examination being developed by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) to be launched in 2012, when the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) will then be phased out.

In this issue, the following will be covered:

 Review of NSS implementation in the 2009-2010 school year
 Roundup of overseas visits in the first half of 2010
 Survey of admission requirements of overseas educational institutions
 Admission requirements of sub-degree programmes in Hong Kong

If you wish to make any comments or if you have any questions, please write to Rebecca Tam, International Recognition Officer ( international@hkeaa.edu.hk ).

     Review of NSS implementation in the 2009-2010 school year      

The New Senior Secondary (NSS) academic structure has been smoothly implemented at Secondary 4 since September 2009. At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, some 74,000 NSS students will decide on their choices of subjects, including Applied Learning subjects, at the Secondary 5 level.

This first batch of NSS students will participate in the first HKDSE examination in 2012, the registration for which will commence in September 2011. Candidates will be required to confirm their choice of examination subjects when they submit their applications. To date, over 570 schools have applied for their students to participate in the inaugural HKDSE.


Aside from administrative work, the HKEAA also attaches great importance to local and international recognition of the HKDSE. The Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM) in Hong Kong already confirmed that students who have attained Level 3 for Chinese Language and English Language and Level 2 for Mathematics and Liberal Studies in the HKDSE Examination will be considered for admission to the new four-year undergraduate programmes in 2012.

In the international arena, the HKDSE was also included in the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) Tariff system earlier this year, which marked an encouraging milestone in the recognition of this new examination. In addition, Australia has also recognized the HKDSE as equivalent to the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in Australia. To enhance understanding of the HKDSE for overseas countries, a briefing on the new examination was held for Consul-Generals in Hong Kong and their assistance was requested in promoting benefits and features of HKDSE to their countries. More encouraging feedbacks from the other countries on HKDSE are expected to come. Admission information provided by tertiary institutions will be published on the HKEAA website.

Looking ahead to the second year of NSS, we are already preparing to continue promoting HKDSE standards to our stakeholders. Indeed, stakeholders are welcome to refer to sample papers and level descriptors of each NSS subject or to contact us to become better acquainted with the standards and details of the HKDSE. More details are likewise available on our website at
http://www.hkeaa.edu.hk/en/hkdse/ .

      Roundup of overseas visits in the first half of 2010       

Visits to several overseas countries were organized in the first half of 2010 to secure international recognition of the HKDSE. Each of these countries was chosen for its popularity with Hong Kong students wishing to further their studies, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States.


To maintain close contact with the overseas higher education sector in these nations, the HKEAA and the Education Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government delegation visited a wide range of education institutions, including Institute of International Education (IIE) of the US, the US Department of Education, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admission Office, International Credential Evaluation Services (ICES) of Canada, and Universities Australia, the peak body that represents all Australian higher education providers, etc. The delegation also attended the UK's international education conference "Going Global 4" for exchanges of on issues of international education in March this year.

Meeting with Australia Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

During these meetings, the delegation introduced the new NSS academic structure, the HKDSE and the favourable results of the UCAS benchmarking study. At the same time, representatives of overseas institutions were able to offer their views on the new academic structure and discuss admission requirements with regard to the HKDSE.

Throughout these fruitful discussions, the HKDSE received much positive feedback and HKDSE students are welcomed to pursue further studies in these countries.


Details of the overseas visits can be accessed at the following link:

HKEAA and EDB delegation visited Education Quality and Accountability Office of Canada
      Survey of admission requirements of overseas educational institutions       

To provide Hong Kong students with information regarding the HKDSE admission requirements of universities in different countries, the HKEAA is now preparing to survey educational institutions and universities worldwide.


In addition to the recognition and admission requirements regarding HKDSE subjects, the views of overseas institutions will also be sought on the Student Learning Profile (SLP). All NSS students are encouraged to build an SLP, which acts as a record of their participation in community service, as well as their aesthetic and physical learning experiences, their moral and civic education, and their career-related experiences. An SLP thus reflects what a student has learned to enrich their personal and social growth, such as inter-personal skills, and a sense of responsibility and leadership.


Local universities have already confirmed their support of SLP and will consider it an important document during the selection process.

Our survey will be dispatched to different overseas educational institutions in the coming months. All information collected from this survey will be made available to the public on the HKEAA website.

     Admission requirements of sub-degree programmes in Hong Kong       

The Vocational Training Council (VTC) is the largest institution in Hong Kong to provide vocational education and training, pre-employment and in-service programmes. It currently has some 190,000 students in Hong Kong, and has already announced that the admission requirement for its Higher Diploma courses under the NSS system is Level 2 in five HKDSE subjects, including both Chinese Language and English Language.

For the admission requirements of other higher education institutions, the Federation for Continuing Education in Tertiary Institutions (FCE) – which currently comprises fourteen institutions, including both continuing and professional education (CPE) units of the eight local universities and six other major providers of CPE programmes in Hong Kong – has initially recommended Level 2 in five HKDSE subjects, including Chinese Language and English Language, or equivalent, including the consideration of Applied Learning (ApL) courses, as the minimum requirement for its sub-degree programmes. A final announcement on the admission requirements will be made by the FCE soon.


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