Chapter 3: Quality


Hong Kong's strategic positioning in the region and its aspiration to become Asia's World City makes a relentless demand on the level of English proficiency from its working population. Hong Kong's role as the gateway to Mainland China also creates a strong demand on the standard of Chinese fluency, both written and oral.

The UGC subscribes to these notions very strongly and continued to provide support to institutions in their language enhancement initiatives during the reporting triennium, although the UGC is of the view that language proficiency could be more effectively cultivated at primary and secondary levels.


  Dr Alice Lam, Chairman UGC, Visiting Language Centre at The Hong Kong Institute of Education  
  Dr Alice Lam, Chairman UGC, Visiting Language Centre at The Hong Kong Institute of Education  

Language Enhancement Grants

The UGC's commitment towards improving students' language proficiency was reflected in the continuous disbursement of Language Enhancement Grants (LEGs) during the 1998-2001 triennium. In fact, the reporting triennium saw an increase in LEGs allocation by HK$45 million to HK$262.5 million. The amount was disbursed to institutions in three annual instalments based on their respective student numbers (Figure 3.3). The funding added substantially to the universities' own resources from the block grant and other funding sources in promoting students' language proficiency in both English and Chinese.

Noting that LEGs had been disbursed to institutions since the 1991-1992 academic year, the UGC commissioned the Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM) to undertake a review of LEGs allocation and its effectiveness in 1999. An Inter-Institutional Task Force on language enhancement under HUCOM, comprising representatives from all eight institutions, was subsequently formed. The Task Force concluded that the impact of LEGs had been positive and effective. Also, the language enhancement programmes helped cultivate amongst students an awareness of the importance of language proficiency, an interest in language learning and greater confidence in using the languages.

  Figure 3.3 - Allocation of the LEGs for Each of the Academic Years in 1998-2001
All figures are in $m

Figure 3.3 - Allocation of the LEGs for Each of the Academic Years in 1998-2001
  Student Life  

Language Proficiency of First-Year-First-Degree Students

The UGC considers that a good command of English and Chinese is important to enable students to benefit effectively from university education, to express more succinctly their views and to interact more effectively with their peers.

To this end, both the UGC and the institutions have been very conscious of the need to adopt a stringent admission policy with regard to language proficiency. In the triennium under review, all First-Year-First-Degree (FYFD) students, except those with mitigating circumstances, were required to pass the Advanced Supplementary Level Use of English and Chinese Language and Culture examinations. In fact, in the 2000-2001 academic year, all FYFD students met the minimum admission requirements with respect to language proficiency.

Student LifeStudent Life

English Proficiency of Graduating Students

The UGC is keenly aware of the community's concern with respect to language proficiency of the graduates, as well as the need for an objective mechanism to assess and document graduates' language proficiency. In order to do so, the UGC has been working with the institutions to see how best the initiative could be taken forward. During the reporting triennium, the Inter-Institutional Task Force formed under HUCOM examined the feasibility of introducing a common reporting format to document the English proficiency of graduating students.

The Task Force commissioned a team of independent consultants to undertake the study which began in February 2001. The Task Force submitted the study report to the UGC in August 2001.


Interaction with Non-local Students

Non-local Students
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