Number of students sitting DSE exams plummets

Top News | Erin Chan 28 Jan 2021

The number of students taking the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams in April is expected to drop to a record low of 52,131.

This marks a plunge of nearly 40 percent from around 82,000 takers in 2013, the year after the exams were launched, according to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.

Among the candidates this year, around 90 percent - 44,000 - are school candidates, while the rest are private candidates.

Of the school candidates, over 70 percent will sit exams in four core subjects and two elective subjects - the minimal university entrance requirement.

Some 20 percent of the school candidates will sit exams for three elective subjects, with less than 1 percent sitting for four.

Biology is the most popular elective, with around 25 percent of all candidates taking the exam for the subject.

Chemistry and economics came in second, with around 23 percent taking either one.

The least popular elective is integrated science, which will only be taken by less than 1 percent of all candidates.

A HKEAA report released yesterday noted that income brought in by the exam fell 2 percent last year in comparison with 2018. The authority's overall income also dropped to HK$450 billion from HK$469 billion between 2018 and 2019.

In the meantime, HKEAA income from the primary and secondary school-based Territory-wide System Assessment also fell 30 percent to HK$56 million last year from 2018.

The report said that the number of people taking international and professional exams or assessments had dropped 44 percent last year amid the pandemic, compared to 2019.

However, HKEAA's International and Professional Exams and Assessments Department recorded an increased profit last year, due to mainland candidates applying for the US Advanced Placement exam through the department. Meanwhile, the Education Bureau recorded HK$17 billion in surplus as of August last year - a decline of 23 percent from HK$23 billion in 2019.

On the suggestion of tabling participation of mainland study tours into the new senior secondary school curriculum, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said the bureau will wait and see if there is such a need, since this was already covered by liberal studies education.

"Some parents might be worried about the safety of their children while they are in the mainland," Yeung said.

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