Vocational/Professional Training against a Changing Landscape of Higher Education in Hong Kong: Choices and Experiences of Students in Accredited Nursing Programs

Project: Research project

Project Details


Hong Kong has experienced a massive expansion of higher education in recent decades. An increasing number of young women and men, including those from working-class families and those with lower grades in public examinations, have a chance to continue with post- secondary education. At the same time, tertiary curricula have become more diversified allowing students to have more choices from a greater variety of programs leading to different kinds and levels of qualifications, career paths, and upward mobility opportunities. Instead of entering an academic field of study, many enrol in newly emerged professional (previously called vocational) programs, designed to provide them with a professional credential that leads them to a stable well-paid job. This proposed project aims to study the decision making, learning experiences, and mobility strategies of students who enter the programs of professional/vocational training in higher education.

Traditionally, the term professional degree refers to bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees that prepare someone to work in a male-dominated profession, such as medicine, law, and engineering, by meeting the academic requirements for accreditation/registration in the professional body. Given an expansion of higher education worldwide, several female- dominated occupational groups successfully gained a professional status by upgrading their vocational training to university education. For example, nurses, social workers and teachers have raised their entry requirements for training and developed first-level university programs. The professional status is associated with fiscal and symbolic privileges. When compared with the highly-selective traditional professional programs at elite institutes, the emerging professional programs have become attractive and attainable for students from various socio-demographic background due to their less restrictive admission requirements.

Unlike most inequality research studies on how middle-class students maintain social privilege in obtaining a well-recognized university degree in prestigious traditional professional fields, this mixed-method research project will examine the interplay effects of class and gender in the mobility strategies of students entering the professional/vocational programs. Specifically using the accredited nursing programs as the case example, this research will compare the socio-demographic characteristic of students who study in different types of tertiary institutions. Through investigating the reasons of choice, training experiences, and future plans of students from diverse background, we will examine the transformations that the professional/vocational programs bring to the stratified structure and gender culture in the education and professional system. Rather than illuminating why social inequality persists, this project seeks to understand what change and how change can come about in an expanded higher education sector.
Effective start/end date1/01/2330/06/25


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.