Tertiary education should be compulsory for all students in Hong Kong.

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Education and Hong Kong

Narrowed Topic: “Tertiary education should be compulsory for all students in Hong Kong.” To what extent do you agree with this view?

The expansion of compulsory education, which includes preschool education and tertiary education, in Hong Kong has beena controversial topic in the past few years. As employers requires their teams has higher education qualifications nowadays, itgaveriseto a discussion about the popularization of tertiary education. Tertiary education have played an important role for teenagers to discover their interest for future career and being as symbol of a ‘ticket’ to the upper class. It is said that extension of compulsory education could ensure the equality of opportunity and heighten the levels in different perspective. However, it has been argued that tertiary education could hardly mitigate the problem of skilled labor shortage in Hong Kong. To a large extent, I agree with the statement. This essay will discuss both for and against side of the tertiary education being as part of the compulsory.

Tertiary education refers to all post-secondary education, including but not limited to universities, like technical training institutes, community colleges, research laboratories and more (World Bank Group, 2013). Compulsory education is universally accepted as basic human rights but when the question leads to the extension to tertiary education, people always doubt the necessary of the expansion. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26, ‘Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.’ This proves that tertiary education is part of the human rights that could ensure the equality of opportunity for everyone. It could form a linkage of institutions that support the manufacture of the higher-order capacity necessary for development. Since Hong Kong’s Gino Coefficient has reached to 0.537 (Census and Statistics Department andSocial Welfare Department, 2011), many students could not afford the tuition for colleges. These undergraduates, who do not acquire any specialties, would find some low payment job and their social mobility is limited. Even in the same generation, their intra-generational social mobility is also respectively less than the others because of the lower education qualification. A vicious circle could be formed that they remain being as the bottom class of the society. It is unfair to the citizen since all of us could have the equivalent chances. The opportunity of getting tertiary education shall be equal, no matter the citizen is wealthy or poor.

Tertiary education is not only part of the human rights, but also could heighten the level on different aspect in the society. In the industry perspective, Mundial (2003) mentioned that tertiary education's traditional character could be to develop students for employment through the transference of knowledge and by providing basic research and training to employees and supporting the sustained expansion of knowledge. It results more educated and productive labor force. Cities with great amounts of academic graduates commonly have upper ranks of innovation and productivity growth (Tejvan P., 2014). Moreover, in the government side, tertiary education incorporate remarkable contributions to society, with advanced education labors typically paying more tax. Graduate degree’s owners are also less likely to depend on public assistance programs. According to Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project (Greenstone and Looney, 2011), it shows only 2% living in households that rely on Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) welfares, analyze with 12% of secondary school graduates. Other than higher contributions, popularization of tertiary education could increase the city’s economic competitiveness. Tertiary education is a main driver of economic contributions in gradually more knowledge-driven to worldwide economy. It has made advanced-level of tertiary education more indispensable. The imperative for this cities is to raise higher-level employer’s skills, to sustain an internationally competitive research base and to increase learning dissemination to the advanced society (OECD, 2008).

On the contrary, it is discussed that tertiary education unlikely to mitigate the problem of skilled labor shortage in Hong Kong. The Robert Half Workplace Survey (2010) reveals that 61% of employers surveyed in Hong Kong observed a skills shortage of middle management workers followed by junior level (23%) and senior or director level crew (15%), which includes technical and sales parts, motivate client relationships, computer and social media skills. This implies that lack of technical skills labor has become a serious problem to the workforce. Subsequently, it is doubted that the expansion of compulsory education could not diminish the problem since it could only increase the ratio of higher education students. Nevertheless, I disagree with this opinion. There could be varies of particular techniques training in the tertiary education. For example,Vocational Training Council (VTC) teaches practical, vocation education and training to undergrads, which provide manpower supports to industries for their development. Tertiary education not only refers to universities, but also technical training institutes. Considerably, skilled training is not sufficient in Hong Kong at this point. If the tertiary education become part of the compulsory education, extend of practical training is necessary for the sustainability of the job market. As a result, the popularization of tertiary education could probably improve the labor shortage problem.

Tertiary education could be part of the compulsory because the opportunity of getting education, which includes tertiary education, shall be equal as it is part of the human right and the popularization of tertiary education would heighten the level in different aspect, like economic, industry and government. However, it has been discussed that the problem of skilled labor shortage could not be mitigate unless there is an extension of tertiary education. Taking under consideration, tertiary education could convey much advantages to the community and develop an intact society.


Assembly, U. G. (1948). Universal declaration of human rights.Resolution adopted by the General Assembly,10(12).

Census and Statistics Department and Social Welfare Department. (2011).Census and Statistics Department and Social Welfare Department

Greenstone and Looney, (2011).Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project

Mundial, B. (2003). Tertiary Education in Colombia: Paving the Way for Reform.Washington DC.

OECD (2008). Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society: VOLUME 2: Special features: Equity, Innovation, Labour Market, Internationalisation

Pettinger, T. P. (2014, March 3). Should University Education be Free?.Economics Help.

Robert Half Workplace Survey. (2010, September 8).Robert Half

Tertiary Education (Higher Education). (2013).World Bank Group

Vocational Training Council,Corporate Information of VTC. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from