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Education System

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Independent Schools
Independent schools provide education for students aged between 5 and 18. There is a strict age limit and students normally sit for GCSE, Scottish Standard Grade or Intermediate 1 and 2 at 16 and GCE A-level or Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher level at 18. Some schools offer International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as an alternative to GCE A-level. Most independent schools have boarding facilities that are available for students over the age of eight.

Independent Colleges
Independent Colleges are private colleges that accept students aged 16 or above. Teaching style is carried out in small groups. Boarding facilities are sometimes available.

Further Education (FE) Colleges
FE colleges offer a full range of academic, vocational and professional courses for students aged 16 or above. Qualifications include: GCSEs, Scottish Standard Grades or Intermediate 1 and 2, Scottish Higher / Advanced Higher level, GCE A-levels, BTEC / OCR certificates / diplomas, foundation degrees, professional courses and access / foundation courses. Boarding facilities are available at some colleges.

Higher Education (HE) Institutions
Undergraduate, postgraduate, foundation courses, foundation degree as well as Higher National Diploma courses are offered in these institutions.

Both undergraduate and postgraduate courses are offered at universities.
Elementary and Secondary Education
Foreign students in the United States may attend public high schools for up to a maximum of twelve months, whereas private boarding schools in the United States welcome international students for a complete course of study. Boarding schools typically require specific admission tests such as the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) or the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE). International students also may be required to provide scores from tests of English proficiency such as the Secondary Level English Proficiency Test (SLEP) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Contact the boarding school's admissions office to find out their specific requirements.

Community and Junior Colleges
These are postsecondary institutions that offer two-year associate degree programs designed to prepare students for transferring to four-year universities for an additional two years of study. Most community colleges are commuter institutions that serve local residents and thus do not operate student housing facilities.
Community colleges maintain “open-door” admissions policies in which anyone who wishes to enroll and meets minimum entry requirements is able to do so.
For Hong Kong students, these minimum admissions requirements are:

  • Completion of Secondary 6, or older than 18;
  • English language proficiency, as demonstrated by the TOEFL iBT, or IELTS score;
  • Evidence that the student has at least the financial resources to pay for the expenses incurred in one academic year.

These institutions offer four-year bachelor’s degree programs. "State universities" are run by U.S. states. Private colleges and universities are funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees, research grants, and gifts from alumni. Students are advised to start begin their preparation to apply to colleges and universities at least twelve months prior to the term's commencement date. For Hong Kong students, typical admissions requirements include:

  • Completion of Secondary 6;
  • Official high school transcripts;
  • English language proficiency, as demonstrated by the TOEFL iBT, or IELTS test score;
  • Undergraduate aptitude tests, like the ACT and SAT;
  • 2 - 3 letters of recommendation;
  • Application essays; and
  • Evidence that the student has at least the financial resources to pay for the expenses incurred in one academic year.
Primary and Secondary Education
The Australian school system is generally 12 years. The primary level comprises 6 or 7 years, depending on the State / Territory. Many Australian schools, both public and private, accept overseas applications.
Upon completion of Year 10, students will be issued with the Secondary Certificate of Education by states and territories. Based on their needs and ability, student can continue their senior school studies or vocational and education training at certificate level. Senior secondary years, leading to matriculation, are Years 11 and 12. Australian schools issue the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education after successful completion of the final two years of schooling. International students can apply to an Australian senior secondary school (Year 11 and 12) and sit for the public examination as the benchmark for university entry.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Australian Technical and Further Education (TAFE) providers, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and a number of universities and schools provide vocational courses. These courses offer practical and professional knowledge and skills. The VET sector offers a vast range of options – from apprenticeship programs to certificate and diploma programs and even selected degrees. Several universities across Australia provide vocational courses in association with TAFE institutes or private VET institutions. That means students completing VET courses in these institutions can enroll in the higher education faculties and receive credit towards a degree. Courses usually commence in February and July each year, with some commencing in October.

Foundation Studies
Foundation Studies is another pathway to undergraduate study at universities in Australia. Foundation Studies are designed for international students. It is based on the undergraduate programs offered at Australian universities, providing them with a better understanding and foundation of the subjects they will study. Students are not required to sit for the public examination. They are assessed and examined based on their performance in assignments, examinations, class participation, attendance and group exercises. They must reach a certain academic standard before a place at the specified university is confirmed.
Foundation studies have several intakes throughout the year, generally starting in February / March or July / August.

Higher Education
There are 43 universities in Australia (40 Australian universities, two international universities, and one private specialty university) offering a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses. Along with our universities, many other institutions offer higher education courses. Bachelor degrees are normally three or four years in duration. Master degrees, by research or course work, take one to two years and PhD programmes need a minimum of three years. The first semester usually commences in late February or early March, but it is also possible to enrol in some courses in July.
Secondary 6 graduates from Hong Kong who hold the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination results can enter university in Australia if their academic performance and English proficiency meet the university’s entry requirements. On average, most institutions require Level 3 to 4 in three to five subjects. Some require Level 4 and 5 in four or more subjects. Individual institutions also accept English Language at Level 4 for admission.
The general admission requirements of individual Australian universities and institutions for HKDSE holders are available on the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority website. Students are advised to check with the individual institutions for the details of admission requirements.
If oversea students completed a Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral degree, they may be eligible for the Post-Study Work Visa. Please visit the website of Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection for details.
Elementary and Secondary Schools
There are public and private primary and secondary schools. Public schools usually do not provide boarding facilities. They are intended for local students but they also accept international students and provide a Homestay Program with Canadian families. Many private schools provide residences. Some are sponsored by missionaries and many are keen on accepting international students.
In all provinces other than Quebec, students may seek admission to university after 12 years (Grade 1 to Grade 12) of primary and secondary schooling.
Admission to most secondary schools in Canada is based generally on the students' past two years and current year academic performance.

The College System
There are over 152 colleges and polytechnics offering credentials that are sanctioned by provincial and territorial governments. Public colleges may also be known as institutes of technology, community colleges, polytechnics, college of applied arts and technology, and in Québec, colléges d'enseignement général et professionnel (cégeps). They offer a wide range of education programs in a vast array of technical and professional fields, including business, agriculture and agri-food, health, social services, broadcasting and journalism, technology, sciences, information technology, engineering, environment, language, and arts. Programs take from a few months to four years including:

  • Certificates (1-2 years) and Diplomas (2-3 years);
  • University Transfer Program (2 years)
  • Academic and applied degrees (3-4 years)
  • Post-graduate diplomas (1 year)

There is no national set of entrance exams for universities and college - instead, your prior academic records will be reviewed as part of the admission process. Hong Kong students may enter universities or colleges in Canada after the completion of Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination / GCE A Level / IB Diploma Program. Some colleges that offers foundation program may accept students of F.5 (grade 11) standard.
International students must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French, depending on the college or university. This may involve writing tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or Test de francais international (TFI). Many institutions offer English or French as a Second Language programs to international students who do not already have language proficiency.

Canada has more than 100 public and private not-for-profit universities and university-degree granting institutions, giving students a vast choice of undergraduate and post-graduate programs, as well as professional designations, certificate and diploma courses, and short career-focused programs. Three types of degrees are offered: 1) Undergraduate programs lead to a bachelor's degree after three or four years of study depending on province. An honor degree usually involves more concentration and additional credits; 2) Master's or Graduate degrees; 3) Doctoral or PhD programs.
Students can specialise by choosing from a huge range of programs, from social science, biology, and computer technology to nursing, media studies and agriculture. Students can also choose to apply to universities ranging in size from very large, research-intensive institutions to much smaller, primarily undergraduate focused campuses.

Source: Education Bureau website

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