The New Academic Structure
In September 2009, Hong Kong started the implementation of the New Academic Structure (NAS), which marked the beginning of a new era in education. The NAS facilitates the development of the human resources necessary for sustaining the position of Hong Kong as an international city, amidst worldwide changes brought by globalization, economic restructuring, and rapid development in Mainland China. The first cohort will complete their senior secondary education in 2012.
Main Features of the NAS
- Comprises three-year junior secondary, three-year senior secondary, and four-year undergraduate education.
- Offers a broad and balanced secondary school curriculum (i.e., no more streaming of Arts, Science or Business subjects); emphasizes generic skills like critical thinking, creativity and communication, and learning to learn; caters to students with diverse interests, aptitudes and needs by offering more choices.
- Students are required to study four core subjects and choose two to three electives.
- Four core subjects – Chinese, English, Mathematics, and Liberal Studies** The Liberal Studies aims to broaden students' knowledge base, enhance their social and national awareness and global outlook, and develop their multi-perspective and critical thinking skills through studies of a wide range of issues.
- Elective subjects that range from traditional subjects like Sciences, History, and Geography, to Applied Learning courses and other foreign language courses like French, Spanish and Japanese
- Other Learning Experiences (OLE) and Student Learning Profile (SLP) – both within and outside of the classroom, such as moral and civic education, community services, career-related experiences, aesthetic development and physical development – form an essential part of the new senior secondary curriculum. Students will be encouraged to develop an SLP on their OLE, awards/achievements gained outside of school, and self reflections for reference of admission to post-secondary and university education, as well as for employers.
Examination and Assessment under the NAS
- At the end of the sixth year of the secondary curriculum, students will sit for one single public examination in order to obtain the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE).
- Standards-referenced Reporting will be adopted for the HKDSE examination for reporting a student's overall performance. Levels 1 to 5 will replace the existing Grades A to F. Each level will be accompanied by descriptors that depict the performance of a student at a given level. Results of candidates indicate the standards achieved in terms of knowledge and skills, regardless of the performance of other candidates taking the same examination.
- The new examination articulates to multiple pathways in local post-secondary and higher education institutions.
- It has gained positive international recognition. The National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) have conducted benchmarking studies on the recognition of the HKDSE examination and its articulation to overseas universities. The NARIC study shows that the HKDSE compares favourably with alternative qualifications in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The UCAS benchmarking studies enable comparisons of the HKDSE examinations with awards in the United Kingdom and other regions for university admission purpose through a tariff point system. The Australian Government has also recognized the HKDSE as equivalent to the Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. International recognition of HKDSE, together with students' SLP, will serve as a reference in student admission for overseas universities.
Background of Hong Kong's Educational System
- Hong Kong aspires to be a regional education hub.
- Hong Kong has 50 international schools, offering a total of 35,100 primary and secondary school places.
- There are twelve degree-awarding institutions in Hong Kong: three are ranked within the top 50 in 2009 by the Times Higher Education Supplement.
Non-local students in Hong Kong
- Some 9,200 non-local students are now studying in Hong Kong's tertiary institutions at various levels. The quotas for non-local students at publicly-funded institutions have been doubled from 10% to 20% since 2008.
- Employment restrictions have been relaxed to allow non-local students to take part-time jobs during their studies. Non-local students may also stay in Hong Kong for 12 months, without any restrictions, after graduation. We have set up a scholarship fund with one billion Hong Kong Dollars to award government scholarships to outstanding local and non-local students.
Research opportunities in Hong Kong
- In 2009, we established a Research Endowment Fund with HK$18 billion and shall create, in phases, 800 additional publicly-funded research postgraduate places.
- Among the 800 places, about 400 will be earmarked for supporting a Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme. This scheme aims to attract the best and brightest students from around the world to pursue their PhD programmes in Hong Kong's institutions. The scheme provides a monthly stipend, conference attendance, and research-related and travel allowance for the awardees for a period up to three years. This prestigious scheme will unite top international research postgraduate students and Hong Kong's world-class research institutions. We hope that it will nurture the best students excelling in their chosen research fields, with elevated knowledge and a global outlook, who are poised to cope with the challenges of a changing world.
For more information about our NAS and our higher education institutions, please visit our website www.edb.gov.hk/334/EN; websites of the individual institutions:
- City University of Hong Kong (www.cityu.edu.hk)
- Hong Kong Baptist University (www.hkbu.edu.hk)
- Lingnan University (www.ln.edu.hk)
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong (www.cuhk.edu.hk)
- The Hong Kong Institute of Education (www.ied.edu.hk)
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (www.polyu.edu.hk)
- The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (www.ust.hk)
- The University of Hong Kong (www.hku.hk)
- The Open University of Hong Kong (www.ouhk.edu.hk)
- The Hong Kong Shue Yan University (www.hksyu.edu)
- Chu Hai of Higher Education College (www.chuhai.edu.hk)
- The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (www.hkapa.edu)
You are also welcome to contact the Education Bureau of the Hong Kong Government via email at
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Toronto