25 October 2016
Youngsters returning to Hong Kong with mainland degrees often find that getting the right job is not easy. Photo: Xinhua
Youngsters returning to Hong Kong with mainland degrees often find that getting the right job is not easy. Photo: Xinhua

Why mainland degrees are a mixed blessing for HK youth

Marginal students don’t get to choose the colleges and subjects they like, but that doesn’t mean that they have to forego their dreams.

To get around the problem, some students who don’t stand a chance in Hong Kong opt to pursue their studies in mainland China.

RTHK recently talked to a number of Hong Kong students in Jinan University in Guangzhou to find out about their experience.

Paul Wong is a medical school student in Jinan. He always wanted to become a doctor but his grades were not good enough for the University of Hong Kong or the Chinese University of Hong Kong. So he tried Jinan and got admitted last year.

Jinan is one of the renowned Chinese Universities that adopts a more relaxed standard in the admittance of students from Hong Kong and Macau.

Wong’s mother, who lives from paycheck to paycheck, is glad her son made it to the course of his choice. She hopes the degree will help the family improve its financial situation. Meanwhile, she is also happy that Wong can do something that will help people.

Jinan goes to great lengths to set up separate classes using English as the teaching language to accommodate overseas Chinese students like Wong.

But in Wong’s mind, there is always a big question mark. “Can I really practice medicine in Hong Kong after graduation?”

Passing Hong Kong’s licensing examination has always been difficult, especially for students from mainland colleges.

The success rate is said to be only around 26 percent for the first part of the exam (out of three), widely regarded to be the most difficult one.

Wong’s senior classmates already warned him to be psychologically prepared to spend three to four years as there are few precedents of success in the first go.

For the time being, Wong remains committed and believes he can reach his goal as long as he studies hard enough.

Jason Li just attended his graduation ceremony and is now back in Hong Kong looking for a job. Though Jinan is a prestigious name in Guangzhou, the university is much less recognized in Hong Kong. Li feels being “uncompetitive” against local graduates.

Li surfs for job openings every day and has sent out about 50 application letters so far. He got a few interview chances but there is no offer yet.

He is beginning to worry that his mainland degree is not going to take him too far in Hong Kong’s job market, so he is thinking about casting his net wide and looking for mainland jobs too.

John Law is graduating next year. He is pursuing a journalism course. For him, job prospects might be a bit brighter as landing a job with Beijing-friendly newspapers like Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao basically shouldn’t be a problem.

If he chooses to work in China, Jinan University’s reputation is also a very useful calling card.

Law is yet to make up his mind whether he is going to stay in China or come back to Hong Kong. But he has a feeling that his career prospects may be better in the mainland.

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EJ Insight writer

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