The application process for Hong Kong universities can vary, even for local students.
Local secondary students applying for a three- or four-year curriculum at HKU, PolyU, CityU, HKBU, Lingnan, CUHK, HKUST and HKIEd may use the JUPAS (Joint University Programmes Admissions System).
Whether or not a student has completed an HKALE (Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination) or HKDSE (Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education) will affect which system they use, as the former involves a three-year course of study, and the latter four years.
For students who have completed international or post-secondary qualifications in Hong Kong, for example, the IB or A-Levels, then a separate application to each local university via the non-JUPAS route is required. International or mainland students also apply separately.
Application requirements for all groups are usually the same, as can be seen on this example list of requirements for 2012 entrants for HKU: www.als.hku.hk/admission/files/ applying-or-admission-info/hong- kong-students/non-jupas/entrance- requirement/uer.pdf. However, it must again be noted that these are minimal requirements, and a students is unlikely to be admitted to a competitive course if they barely make the grade.
Hong Kong universities also usually have an English and second language requirement for entrance. These are often quite reasonable, for example, a 6.5 IELTS band score or a Grade D in Use of English in the HKALE, but they are necessary, particularly at institutions like the University of Hong Kong, where English is predominantly the medium of instruction. The possession of a qualification in an unspecified second language other than English is also required.
How long an application takes also varies. Students who wish to be considered for Fast Track application must have submitted their forms from the October before they plan to start a course.
If a student intends to do this then it is sensible to complete their application as soon as possible (the official deadline is November 1) as results become available from mid-December.
Students are only recommended to take this route if they have received exceptionally good academic results. If a student is unsuccessful, their application may be considered during the Main Round, but this is not guaranteed.
The deadline for Main Round applicants is December 30, and students will begin to receive news on their offer from around mid-February.
Students may be invited by their prospective departments to attend interviews or admissions tests. Not all students need to do this and it is not an indicator of how successful an applicant has been.
On some occasions students can apply late if they have missed the deadline.
However, only a very small percentage of candidates gain a place this way and applications are normally only considered if there has been extreme mitigating circumstances or the candidate is particularly impressive.
Next week this column will examine some frequently asked questions that occur when applying for universities across Hong Kong.
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