>Community College in Hong Kong

>Hong Kong has a community college system, but most of these colleges are associated with a particular university. They have something in common with the US in that they often have vocational programs and certificate programs. However, that is about as far as the comparison goes.

Community Colleges are self-financed so that students have to pay the full cost. It is the students who get into four year programs at universities (top 18% of students) who are subsidized. And as a person who works for CityU’s community colleges said to me, “the university is embarrassed by the presence of the CC students.” And so the universities don’t want the CC students to come and finish their degrees–they are financed by the government for 4 year students.

Now Hong Kong is moving to a 4 year undergraduate degree and the CCs have been told that they have to arrange for a 2+2 seamless system with the universities. But the universities have no interest in arranging for this. They don’t want the students and have never created articulation agreements to allow them to transfer credits. The CCs are powerless to negotiate their place.

This is so different than the issues in the U.S. In the U.S., CCs are seen as the entry point for first generation college students and non-traditional students–a bridge to the university. And colleges want these students because of the declining numbers of college age students and the rising cost of higher education. In addition, any NSF grant or foundation grants are interested in what colleges are doing to reach underserved populations and the CCs are often the collaborators in these efforts. The CCs have something that is desired by other institutions of higher education.

In Hong Kong there is not culture of inclusion in terms of obligations to underserved populations. If you don’t make the cut when you finish high school, that is the way it is. The universities also don’t have a sense of service to the community outside of trying to be ranked highly in the world in higher education. Faculty aren’t required to be involved in service to the community in any way, and in fact, would probably be penalized for doing so.

I look at all the young people on the subway and wonder, who is going to give them a chance?

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