Zero new student in one of Hong Kong’s oldest journalism schools

September 29, 2020 09:54
Chu Hai College of Higher Education Photo: Chu Hai College of Higher Education

Journalism must have become one of the most hated professions in Hong Kong for now.

Take the journalism and communication school of Chu Hai College of Higher Education, one of the city’s oldest journalism schools and a cradle for many reporters and editors in town.

The school was reported to have zero first-year intake according to HK01, the worst since its establishment in 1968.

it is not difficult to understand why. The media industry outlook is terrible, not only in Hong Kong, but also in other parts of the world, thanks to the internet that has disrupted the industry in the last two decades.

All told, journalists are a dangerous job. You do not need a priest to talk you down for joining a long-hour but low-paying job, even though the work is exciting and meaningful.

Unfortunately, the social movement last year, together with the passing of national security law, easily deter youngsters from taking up the challenge.

Interestingly from my close-up observation – both as a former lecturer of a couple of journalism schools (including Chu Hai) and my work for several media outlets – I found that media companies like to hire journalism graduates but the graduates are picky in their choice of media. Because of the mismatch, some outlets find it difficult to hire young guns.

Instead of continuing their media dreams, I have also seen students who opted for a higher-paying job in the service or retail sector. Almost all graduates from the top journalism schools, I was told, were not in the journalism business.

Ask any senior journalists: who wants their next generation to succeed in the same business?

This is why even the incumbent department head David Wong, former editor of The Standard, failed to turn magic and reverse its fate.

Under his reign, the school of journalism did not take in more than 10 students last year, a sharp contrast to over 100 students in a graduated class.

To be fair, the journalism department is not the only one that recorded zero intake this year.

The drop in the number of mainland students applying to Chu Hai was the culprit but then they could only take as many as 15 per cent of foreign students. The interest from local students was also weak amid intense competition from rivals such as Vocational Training College.

More importantly, Chu Hai failed to get the university status in 2018 after years of lobbying.

Now Chu Hai must find its way to survive – and a solution too of how to fill its classroom overlooking the Gold Coast of Tuen Mun with the next generation of curious journalists.

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EJ Insight writer