Value in dual degrees

| Siu Sai-wo 11 Jul 2019

Results for the Diploma of Secondary Education examination have been released, and students will be making decisions on the path to take to further their education.

Their decisions will also have an impact on how schools set up programs.

In one of the current-year university rankings, Tsinghua University unseated the National University of Singapore to become No 1 in the Asia-Pacific region.

What is enabling mainland universities to make big jumps in ranking is their aspiration to connect with the world, backed by substantial resources.

Chinese University president Rocky Tuan Sung-chi pointed out in a talk with me that institutions must pay attention to rankings as they provide objective references for parents and students in school choices. Having said that, students cannot look solely at the rankings, he said, as factors on which these rankings are based may not be comprehensive.

For example, some countries are beginning to look at additional aspects like how a school adds value for students.

Tuan chuckled and said whether the program is a "good deal" is also a factor that students should take into account.

In this regard, he said, Chinese University is collaborating with five institutions, including Peking, Tsinghua and Japan's Waseda universities, to offer dual-degree programs.

To explain the arrangement, he used the example of the economics dual degree program of CUHK and Tsinghua University. Under the program, students will attend classes for two years each at the two campuses. Upon completion of studies, they will be awarded degrees by both schools.

Graduates who choose to work in the mainland may use the Tsinghua University degree while those who work in Hong Kong may use the Chinese University one.

The arrangement is made possible by meticulous program design and the willingness of the University Grants Committee to subsidize the related programs, for which Tuan is thankful.

But, of course, the students have to successfully complete special courses such as CU's university general education to ensure that academic standards are not compromised.

These dual-degree programs are "good deals" for students, and we now know that universities had to cross a few hurdles to set them up.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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