As a non-chinese speaking (NCS/ 非華語學生) student, the path to university in Hong Kong may be different from your peers. This article will hopefully aid you in understanding whether you are qualified, what resources you have, and how your NCS status might affect your JUPAS application.
Am I Qualified as an NCS?
Firstly, who is considered an NCS? You are considered an NCS by JUPAS if:
- You’ve studied chinese for less than 6 years;
- You’ve studied mainstream chinese for less than 6 years (i.e. you’ve been studying a simplified Chinese syllabus or have been actively participating in Student Support Programs (SSP) with an alternate Chinese curriculum);
- You speak primarily english/ other mother-tongues at home (check with your career teachers to learn more).
The specified circumstances are: The applicants have learnt Chinese language for less than 6 years while receiving primary and secondary education. This caters specifically to applicants who have a late start in the learning of Chinese language (e.g. due to their settlement in Hong Kong well past the entry level) or who have been educated in Hong Kong sporadically;
The applicants have learnt Chinese language for 6 years or more in schools, but have been taught an adapted and simpler Chinese language curriculum not normally applicable to the majority of applicants in local schools.JUPAS: Alternative Qualifications for Chinese Language; https://www.jupas.edu.hk/en/page/detail/547/#note
If you relate to any of the above three, then you can be considered an NCS with JUPAS. For further clarification, you may discuss with the teachers at school. There are many programs available to aid you in your journey.
- I am an ethnic Chinese south-east Asian, in a primarily English-speaking household, who immigrated to Hong Kong in the late 2000s. I studied at a semi-international school, in which we had a simplified Chinese syllabus. In junior secondary school, although I participated in local mainstream Chinese lessons, I also joined a Student Support Program hosted by the University of Hong Kong (2007-2018) which taught GCSE and GCE Chinese to non-Chinese Speaking students, which qualified me as an NCS for JUPAS admissions.
There are also other Student Support Programs (SSP) hosted by various institutions under the Education Bureau. For example, HKU Space also hosts free SSP lessons for NCS primary and secondary students.
What Qualifications Do I Need? (IGCSE? AL?)
I bet you have probably heard this common joke amongst your local peers that the Chinese Language Paper is the “Paper of Death” (死亡之卷). So as an NCS, how should you fulfil the 3322 requirement to be eligible for JUPAS?
Well, lucky for you, you are permitted to skip the Chinese DSE examinations. You may take an alternative chinese paper (such as IGCSE, GCE, Applied Chinese etc). A passing score (typically C or E and above depending on the university) will provide you with a “level 3” in Chinese.
In addition, you can play to your advantages by taking a category C subject that will be counted to your score. If you speak another language or have a mother tongue, make good use of it to give yourself a leg up.
Note: Category C subjects offered to HKDSE candidates: French Language, German Language, Hindi Language, Japanese Language, Spanish Language, Urdu Language (Source: HKEAA)
- I personally studied for both the Pearson and Cambridge GCE examinations, I ended up accidentally taking the AS Level Chinese Paper offered by Cambridge instead of the Pearson version in Form 6, so I highly encourage you to ensure you are applying for the correct examination paper.
One thing to note is that Cambridge only offers Chinese exams in Simplified Chinese (簡體字), while Pearson offers both Simplified and Traditional Chinese (繁體字). I personally recommend taking the Pearson IGCSE/ GCSE in form 4, and the Pearson GCSE/ GCE in form 5. If your Chinese is relatively strong, trying out the Pearson/ Cambridge GCE will give you an edge in your application.
If your school offers Applied Chinese HKDSE courses or provides alternate lessons, it is recommended you take your teachers’ advice. But if your school doesn’t have much experience, I would recommend the above.
The JUPAS Scoring System
Something important to note is that different universities and faculties have their own requirements. Depending on the university, they may or may not recognize your alternate language qualifications.
- 4C+1/2X system. Many universities require 4 core subjects (including 2 language subjects) Be sure to look carefully at each requirement, for some faculties, any passing grade in alternative chinese will be counted as Level 3. For others, you may use other language papers (i.e. category C) to replace chinese.
- Best 5/6 system. If the faculty you are considering requires Best 5/ 6, be sure to keep in mind how many subjects you take. If you only take 2 electives + 3 core subjects (total 5), you may not be able to apply for Best 6 programs.
This may vary between universities, so it is important that you contact the admissions officers of your preferred university via phone call or email to verify that your qualifications are accepted by the institution.
- For example, my results in Cambridge AS Level Chinese Examination will be considered differently by different universities.
|Cambridge AS Level||A||B||C|
So be sure to check with each university and program. You may also check the official JUPAS website for general information about alternative qualifications in Chinese.
All in all, it may seem confusing at first, but be sure to contact teachers and various university admissions offices to get the most updated information. Be sure to confirm your NCS status for your JUPAS application.