DSE day drives uni hopes higher

Editorial | Mary Ma 20 Jul 2021

For some students, this may be the best of times - though it's also the worst of times.

If the silver lining of the Covid pandemic was found in the International Baccalaureate results released two weeks ago, the hunch is that it could also be the case - though by a different measure - with tomorrow's Diploma of Secondary Education exam results.

The pandemic has forced students to learn online, removing them from the normal school environment.

While it may have been a surprise to learn of the record number of IB students scoring full marks this year, this was made possible by the pandemic, with the marking scheme most likely having been updated to take into account the difficulties faced by students across different continents.

Hong Kong students were able to take the exam in person and may have benefited from the revised marking scheme.

This will not be the case with the DSE exam as the candidates had to compete in the local environment. It will surprise me greatly if the number of top scorers shoots through the roof to hit a new high as happened with the IB.

Yet, unlike their predecessors in 2020 or the year before, the fact that fewer candidates took the landmark exam means a greater opportunity of winning a university place for those whose chance in the past would have been only 50-50.

The causal relationship cannot be more obvious as the number of university places has not decreased.

It is little wonder that some education consultants were of the opinion that a student achieving 19 points would secure a university place, but it would also be probable for someone getting as low as 18 this year if they selected less competitive subjects to study.

A sigh of relief is expected all round tomorrow.

In the mainland, about nine million high school students took the public exam for university admission this year, which was among the highest on record.

As they look south, will some be jealous of the Hong Kong youngsters' increased chance of university admission?

Who would blame them?

Having said that, competition for top popular programs such as medicine is expected to continue to be keen, with normally high scorers possibly displaced by top scorers in the final stage.

This should be monitored.

However, generally speaking, the extraordinary IB results this year should not cause too much of an impact locally as only about 2,000 students took the exam.

Even though the DSE is controversial, it is the mainstream here with 44,000 day-school students taking it in 2021.

All in all, 52,000 candidates took the exam, which was reportedly a record low since DSE was introduced in 2009.

As the pandemic situation continues to improve, it is paramount that normal school life resumes.

In this regard, Hang Seng University should be praised for its undertaking to resume face-to-face lectures in the new academic year.

Other universities should follow suit.

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