When the government established the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) in 1989, its basic mission was to provide education for all, mainly by means of part-time distance learning.
As a sign of its success, though, the university now offers more than 20 full-time undergraduate programmes and has more than 2,100 full-time students. It also announced recently that it will join the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) for the 2007 intake.
"OUHK still represents a breakthrough for education in Hong Kong because we successfully operate on a self-financing model without receiving any recurrent grants from the government, and provide wide access to education," says senior assistant registrar Wendy Watt. "Compared with the other institutions participating in JUPAS, we offer more flexible modes of study and a choice of programmes which integrate both theory and practice."
She explains that a major reason for joining JUPAS was to ensure that school students completing Form Seven and their parents know there is another option.
"In the past, we have always received positive feedback from students taking our courses," says Ms Watt. "Therefore, we want to give more people the chance to benefit from a tertiary-level education and the advantages it brings." She mentions that former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-wah always promoted the importance of life-long learning and the need to equip oneself to work in a competitive economy.
OUHK's teachers and administrators take understandable pride in the fact that, for the coming 2007 intake, there will be an additional seven full-time bachelor's degrees providing places for 280 students under JUPAS. Besides that, there will be about twenty other bachelor's degrees with direct admission in 2007. There is also a flexible system of course credits which makes it easier for students to plan their learning more effectively
A special talk on selecting courses will take place at an open day on November 4. Anyone interested in knowing more about OUHK and the various full-time programmes is welcome to attend.
"It is important for students to understand their personal needs before choosing a programme and applying," explains Ms Watt. "We hope the talk will give insights about the issues involved in studying a full-time course; whether OUHK will suit them best; and whether they have the aptitude and self-discipline needed to tackle certain subjects. Secondary students may not be sure about these things and we want to provide the necessary advice and guidance."
So far, more than 40,000 students have obtained OUHK qualifications. Anyone planning to acquire a qualification through full-time study can now apply either through JUPAS or directly.