【明報專訊】The new school term is about to begin, and a new phenomenon has emerged in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. This year, the number of Hong Kong students pursuing higher education in mainland China has reached a record of 14,000. One of the reasons is that the Guangdong government has been determined to develop higher education in recent years. Just take Shenzhen. While it had only one university ten years ago, now there are 15. There have been sharp increases in the numbers of Hong Kong students pursuing studies on the mainland and vice versa, and there has been a trend towards Hong Kong universities running campuses on the mainland. This shows that there has been two-way action by students making higher education choices and universities pursuing their own development. The governments of Guangdong and Hong Kong should expand measures to encourage these trends in order to further promote industry-university-institute interaction and compatibility in the Greater Bay Area.
This year, the number of Hong Kong students pursuing further studies on the mainland has reached 14,000. However, a closer look at the data reveals that only 3,833 of them have applied for mainland universities using their DSE scores. It is believed that most of the remaining 10,000 students are Hong Kong people living on the mainland. However, regardless of the route that was taken, the numbers of people are on the rise invariably. One of the reasons is the continuous improvement of the standards of universities on the mainland. Furthermore, there are many courses that Hong Kong universities do not offer. Even if some universities do, they do not offer the best of such courses. An even greater factor is the huge job market on the mainland. On the mainland, what is studied closely matches the demands of the mainland market, and there is the possibility of developing connections. All this is beneficial to future career development.
As there are currently 13,000 mainland students studying in public universities in Hong Kong, a trend of two-way interactions has already emerged. But there is still a long way to go before the concept of the integration of the Greater Bay Area is truly realised. University students in Hong Kong have a poor knowledge of the mainland. A 2010 report by the University Grants Committee pointed out that Hong Kong students' level of knowledge of the mainland was surprisingly low. The Committee recommended that Hong Kong students' knowledge of the mainland be raised not only because Hong Kong is part of China, but also for the sake of Hong Kong students' competitiveness in the huge market. Over the past ten years, improvements in this area have been minimal. From the perspective of nurturing students, universities in Hong Kong should not only strengthen curricula in this area, but also increase the opportunities for students to go on exchange on the mainland.
The concept of the Greater Bay Area also has an element of a cooperative relationship to it. When higher education institutes in Hong Kong run campuses in the Greater Bay Area and make greater contributions to industry-university-institute interaction, they bring benefits to the entire Greater Bay Area, which is a good thing. But there is still a lot of room for cooperation. Despite the many calls for the integration of Hong Kong campuses and mainland campuses, the exchange of teachers and students, co-applications for scientific research funding and the mutual recognition of credits, the Guangdong and Hong Kong governments have yet to engage in formal negotiations on these matters. They should work out a set of feasible methods as soon as possible to facilitate further cooperation between universities. While universities and students in Hong Kong have taken a big step, the governments have yet to take a small step in their cooperation.
phenomenon : a fact or an event in nature or society, especially one that is not fully understood
competitiveness : the ability of a company, country, or a product to compete with others
facilitate : to make an action or a process possible or easier