Educational inequalities in higher education in Hong Kong
Michael O’SULLIVAN and Michael Yat-him TSANG
Abstract Harsh levels of social inequality stunt social mobility and progress towards equality of opportunity in Hong Kong. There are also strong connections between levels of social inequality and educational attainment in this “global city.” This paper seeks to contribute to the important body of work on equality studies and attainment research by examining two inter-connected aspects of educational inequality in higher education in Hong Kong: first, the relative shortage of degree places available for local students at local universities, and second, the relatively strong correlation between income and educational attainment across the districts in Hong Kong. It adopts a discursive sociocultural approach in examining, and commenting on, both the context and statistical trajectory of post-secondary education in Hong Kong. The paper also assesses government initiatives that claim to encourage higher levels of post-secondary participation, in particular through the rapid development of self-financed sub-degree programmes. A secondary argument discusses how university rankings criteria have a deleterious effect on the commitment to promote mass higher education, especially in terms of participation rates at publicly-funded full-time degree programmes.
Keywords: Hong Kong, education, inequality, university, associate degree, self-funded programme
Michael O’Sullivan is an associate professor in the department of English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has published widely on literature, philosophy and education. Recent publications include Weakness: a literary and philosophical history (Bloomsbury, 2014), The Humanities and the Irish University (Manchester University Press, 2014), and The Future of English in Asia (forthcoming 2015).
Michael Yat-him Tsang acquired his PhD from the department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, The University of Warwick. He has published articles in Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature and The Future of English in Asia (forthcoming 2015).