A universal education

Some say going to university is the experience of a lifetime. So what can you expect from life if and when you move up to tertiary education?

MANY of you will go to university later in life. Post-secondary education is very different from primary or secondary schools. It is never too early to know more about what it is like.

The most noticeable difference is the freedom. There is no need to wear a school uniform, and you get to choose your own discipline to study, and what courses to take. Everyone can design their own timetable. But with freedom comes responsibility. With no one telling you what to do every step of the way, you have to manage your own affairs.

There will be counsellors and teachers to help, but you need to take the initiative, and bear the consequences of your decisions.

Living away from home
THIS may be your dream – living on your own, without your parents breathing down your neck every minute of the day.

You will have the chance to do that when you go to university. Hong Kong’s eight universities all offer residential options for students. While some students may choose to commute, many opt for living on campus as dorm life is considered a valuable learning experience.

You can immerse yourself in myriad activities and spend much more time with your classmates and friends. You also learn to live with people other than your family, and that might not be easy at first.

Social setting
THERE are many student bodies in universities. In fact, these are rather similar to the various clubs and societies you might have joined in secondary school.

But student bodies in universities are bigger and activities can be more intense.

Student unions are the main bodies representing students in tertiary institutions. Traditionally, they are actively involved in community issues and social actions.

Many students want to take part in running these bodies by getting elected to their committees. In campus parlance, this is called seung jong (上莊), and is considered a key part of university life.

Talk the talk
TO save yourself from looking embarrassingly out of place when you first start university, you may want to learn a few terms that are often used among university students.

For example, first year students are called ‘freshmen’, and GPA stands for Grade Point Average, which is the average standing of your grades.

A GPA of 4 means you have aced every subject. The lower your GPA, the worse you are doing.

Exchange programmes
IN university, you have the opportunity to go on exchange programmes.

All eight universities in Hong Kong offer such programmes, under which you would spend some time – perhaps a year or a semester – in a foreign country as part of your academic course.

You would get the chance to meet people from another culture, and be immersed in their way of living.

The University Grants Committee (UGC) of Hong Kong is an advisory body that advises the government on the development and funding needs of local higher education institutions.

Oldest university
The University of Hong Kong (香港大學) has the longest history in Hong Kong. It was founded on 11 March 1912. That makes it 103 years old next week!

Local universities
Hong Kong has eight local degreeawarding higher education institutions that are funded through the UGC. Seven of these are universities and the remaining one is a teacher training institution.

CUHK dorms
Over half of The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (香港中文大學) undergraduate students live in more than 20 halls of residence. Jointly with six postgraduate halls, these accommodate over 8,000 students.

Scenic campus
Some of the universities in Hong Kong are located in the countryside in scenic settings. The Chinese University of Hong Kong in Tai Po (大埔) looks out to Tolo Harbour (吐露港). The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (香港科技大學) in Sai Kung (西貢) also commands a panoramic sea view.

The City University of Hong Kong (香港城市大學) campus could be the most convenient one as it is linked by a covered walkway to the giant Festival Walk shopping mall and the Kowloon Tong (九龍塘) MTR station.