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5 Facts on Hong Kong Protests and their Impact on its Education System

November 15th, 2019

Photo credit: Nora Tam

The anti-government protests continue for the 24th week in Hong Kong. The protesters–many young high school and university students–have dug in at several university campuses across Hong Kong. The latest epicenter of the protests was the Chinese University of Hong Kong which this past Tuesday evening became the site of violent clashes between police and the protesters. Tensions continue to run high and the confrontations between protesters and police have turned violent.

The unrest in Hong Kong was triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill which would have enabled the transfer of fugitives to mainland China. The movement, as reported by Hong Kong Free Press, “has evolved into wider calls for democratic reform and accountability for the police handling of the crisis.”

Here are a few facts on the impact the protests are having on the schools and universities in Hong Kong:

  1. Hong Kong’s Education Bureau announced that all schools would shut on Thursday, November 14th. This means the suspension of kindergarten, primary and secondary school classes citing safety concerns arising from the city’s three consecutive days of unrest. Source
  2.  Most of the city’s universities and other higher educational institutions also announced there would be no classes on Thursday, November 14th. At least 10 have suspended classes the rest of the week. Source
  3.  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Baptist University (BU) had cancelled all on-campus lessons. Several universities had announced they would be introducing online learning and other assessment methods for the remaining weeks of the term. Source
  4. Some exchange students are being advised to leave Hong Kong as the protests continue. Norway and Denmark, for example, have advised their students to return home. Source
  5. A group of students from Mainland China were helped by Hong Kong police to leave their campus after it was barricaded by demonstrators. Many are taking advantage of a program that offers them a week of free accommodation in hotels and hostels in the neighboring city of Shenzhen. Source

This is an on-going crisis in Hong Kong and ACEI-Global will include updates as they become available. Please follow us on Facebook for continued updates on Hong Kong and education news from around the world.


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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Hong Kong: 15 Facts to know about the New Secondary System

November 7th, 2013


This week I presented a session on Hong Kong’s new secondary education curriculum at the Bi-Regional NAFSA V & VI Conference (in Indianapolis, IN) and NAFSA Region XII Conference ( in San Diego, CA) .

With an increased number of senior secondary graduates competing for the same number of university place in Hong Kong in the post-A-level era, more Hong Kong students are expected to be looking abroad for higher education opportunities in the near future. This means that Hong Kong has the potential to become an increasingly attractive source of students for institutions recruiting internationally, especially when one considers their English-language ability and the comparative secondary standards in Hong Kong.

In preparation of recruitment, enrollment and evaluation of credentials of future students from Hong Kong, I hope you’ll find the brief overview on Hong Kong’s education system and its current secondary program helpful. At the end of this blog I’ve also provided a list of sources you may find useful.

As many of you know, Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom and was under its administration from 1841 to 1997. In July 1997, the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed over to China by the UK. As a former colony of Britain, the Hong Kong education system was heavily influenced by the British model. It mirrored the British system of the GCE O-levels and A-levels. In the old system, students took the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) at the end of Secondary 5 (which was 11 years of primary and secondary education). Students planning to study at the university level in Hong Kong, studied two additional years known as Sixth Form *(lower 6 and upper 6) and at the of the second year, they sat for the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE).

Since the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, the education system has undergone a series of changes reflecting different language of instruction policies and a significant overhaul of the secondary system. Below are highlights of the changes to the senior secondary system which went into effect as of 2009/2010 and the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE):


1. Compulsory education is 9 years; six years of primary and three years of junior secondary.

2. Senior secondary is 3 years, and covers years/grades 10, 11, and 12.

3. Education at public schools from Primary through Senior Secondary is free.

4. Students in Grade/Year 12 prepare for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)

5. At the end of the 12th year, students sit for examinations leading to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE).

6. Based on the final examination results, the HKDSE offers senior secondary graduates access to a range of post-secondary, vocational and tertiary courses covered by a variety of institutions based on

7. Immediately after the 1997 Handover, the majority of local secondary schools have adopted Chinese as their medium of instruction but since then, many have reverted to an English medium instruction. In 2013, 112 out of 400 secondary schools offer English as their medium of instruction.

8. The new Hong Kong secondary curriculum was first introduced at the Secondary 4 level (Grade/Year 10) in September 2009.

9. The HKDSE examinations are held at the end of Form 6 (Grade/Year 12).

10. The HKDSE examination was administered for the first time in the summer of 2012.

11. The HKDSE curriculum includes: 4 core subjects (English, Mathematics, Chinese and Liberal Arts), 2 or 4 elective subjects from a choice of 20, completion of “other learning experiences” ( e.g. moral and civic education, community service, career-related experiences, aesthetic development and physical development).

12. Students enrolled at international schools that are not part of the Hong Kong system do not take public examinations. Many country specific international schools teach a syllabus from their own country. The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a popular program at the international schools.

13. The HKDSE is divided into 3 categories: Category A (Core & Elective); Category B (Applied Learning) and Category C (Other Language Subjects).

14. The HKDSE is awarded when Category A requirements have been met. The grades obtained in the Category A section are calculated into the overall grade average to qualify for the HKDSE. The highest score is 5 but since university entry is very competitive the authorities introduced two new starred (5**) categories to help micro-filter top students. Students with the best level 5 performances are awarded 5**. The next best performance level is 5*.


15. Examinations for Category C subjects are conducted by the UK’s Cambridge International Examinations Authority.


• Hong Kong. The Facts: Education.

Click to access education.pdf

• Hong Kong Education Bureau

• Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education

• Hong Kong : Education and Training.

• Hong Kong Education and Schooling System Explained

• Hong Kong’s Education System

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI

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20 Interesting Facts about Hong Kong

March 07, 2013

As ACEI’s President and CEO, Jasmin S. Kuehnert, embarks on her trip to Hong Kong next week where she’ll be attending the APIEA http://www.apaie.org / Conference and presenting a session on “Partnerships and Collaborations with EducationUSA, higher education communities in the U.S. and the East Asia Pacific,” we thought it would be interesting to share some facts about Hong Kong.

1. Hong Kong’s official name is the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or Hong Kong SAR.

2. Hong Kong means Fragrant Harbor.

3. Hong Kong consists of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and several other smaller islands spread
over 1,092 square kilometers.

4. Hong Kong’s official languages are Chinese (Spoken Cantonese) and English.

5. Hong Kong has more Rolls Royce’s per person than any other city in the world.

6. Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers (classified as building with more than 14 floors) in the world; double that of its nearest rival: New York City.


7. Hong Kong is counted amongst the most densely populated areas of the world.

8. Hong Kong was taken over by the British forces after the defeat of China in the Opium War of 1842. On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China.

9. The emblem of the reunification of Hong Kong with China is Sousa Chinensis (the Chinese White Dolphin)

The Flag of Hong Kong

10. The terrain of Hong Kong is pretty hilly and there are outdoor escalators in the Central district of the Island.

11. Every year, between April and May, residents of Cheung Chau Island organize a bun festival. It’s intended to keep hungry ghosts residing on the island content. They build a tower of buns, but lately they use plastic instead of the real baked version.

Source image courtesy of http://www.atinyrocket.com

12. The Hong Kong dollar is the eighth most traded currency in the world.

13. In Hong Kong, architects take Feng Shui (wind/water elements) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui into consideration in the design and construction of buildings.

14. For nearly 40 years, Sam’s Tailor http://samstailor.com/ , the famous tailor in Burlington Arcade in Hong Kong is reputed to have made clothes for heads of state and celebrities like Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Pavarotti, and Michael Jackson.

15. The 1955 film “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” based on a romantic novel about an American war correspondent (played by the actor William Holden) who fell in love with a Hong Kong Chinese doctor (Jennifer Jones) in the run up to the Korean War was filmed in Hong Kong.


16. Dai Pai Dong, Fast Food Noodle Shops, are common sites in Hong Kong offering an inexpensive bowl of noodles for around HK$20 and free tea.


17. Eating noodles on one’s birthday is considered by the residents of Hong Kong to afford one a long and blessed life.

Source image courtesy of http://www.equator.eftours.com

18. The saying “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,” originated in Hong Kong. The writer Noel Coward wrote the words referring to the Noon Day Gun in Causeway Bay fired every day at the stroke of midday since colonial times.

Image courtesy of http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/culture-heritage/historical-sites/colonial/noon-day-gun.jsp

19. The Tsing Ma Bridge is the world’s longest road and rail suspension bridge and a Hong Kong landmark.


20. As for education, Hong Kong government extended free education in the public section from 9 to 12 years effective 2008/09 school year.

And, here’s one more bonus fact:

21. A new academic structure at the secondary level was implemented in September 2009 and comprises of 6 years of secondary education (i.e. 3 years of junior secondary and 3 years of senior secondary education). The new curriculum leads to one public examination at the end of Secondary 6 and award of the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination which replaces the former Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations (HKALE)

Other useful links:

Click to access education.pdf



Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.

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