The government would increase the number of second year university degree places next year to allow more Associate Degree (AD) program graduates to continue their studies, Secretary for Education Michael Suen said.
Suen said this yesterday when the Legislative Council passed a motion calling for improvement of the programme quality.
Speaking about the government's plan, Suen said the first phase review of AD programs had been completed and a report would be released early next year after the second phase review is over.
However, the number of second year degree places would be increased from 967 to 1,927 next year, he added.
Suen also said that financial aid to AD students would be raised to HK$650 million a year by 2010-11 academic year.
It had been revealed earlier that 3.5 percent of the 8,400 students admitted to self-financed AD programmes in 2006 had failed to meet the admission requirements, meaning a pass in Chinese and English in public examination.
More than 30 percent of AD students admitted to Caritas Bianchi College of Careers, for instance, had failed to meet the requirement. The Community College at Lingnan University had admitted six students who had not completed matriculation programme to its two-year course.
Suen said the government would stress on quality assurance as the number of AD programmes had become stable.
"The transparency of the programmes and the institutions would be enhanced to let the community better understand about AD graduates," he said.
The government would also conduct survey to gauge employers' views on AD graduates, he added.
Legislators, however, criticized the courses saying that the programmes were not recognized by employers because of its poor quality.
Democratic Party legislator Yeung Sum said institutions needed to spend one-third of tuition income to cover government loan they borrowed to build infrastructure for the provision of AD programmes.
"Institutions are not spending much money to improve programme quality," he alleged.
Education panel legislator Cheung Man-kwong said admitting unqualified students had given a severe blow to AD graduates.
"The graduates' job applications were rejected even though they have successfully completed the programme because they have failed in Chinese or English in public exam," he said.
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong chairman Tam Yiu-chung said the problems facing AD programmes had been discussed for a long time, but the situation remained unchanged.
"The government is not doing enough to support AD programmes," he said.
Tam urged the government to give outstanding AD graduates scholarship to allow students continue studies.
Civic Party legislator Audrey Eu said all AD students must take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) before graduation.
(China Daily HK Edition November 22, 2007)