Opportunities and Inequalities in Educational Transitions within an Expanded and Stratified Higher Education System in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong has experienced a massive expansion of higher education in recent decades. Working-class youths and students with lower grades in public examinations, who traditionally have lower representation in the tertiary education sector, have a better chance to continue with postsecondary education. However, the internal stratification within the higher education system, in terms of the types and levels of qualification offered and the institutional and degree prestige, does not only reflect diversity but also channel inequalities. While students from disadvantaged families are usually diverted to programs with less prestigious or lower level of qualifications, youths from higher socio-economic background are found to continuously secure more valuable qualifications.

Based on the in-depth interviews with 90 students, this paper looks into the group of non-traditional students who manoeuvre their available resources within the expanded and complicated system to strive to acquire a valuable degree in Hong Kong. When sub-degree programs too often prove to be ‗dead ends‘ with limited options for improving opportunities, this paper aims to highlight how this sector has gradually integrated into the dominant higher education system. Students use the sub-degree education as a ‘second chance‘ for articulation to degree education, especially those held in public universities. It also examines the continuous struggle and worries among the ‗non-traditional‘ students in universities, which reflect the continuation of inequalities. Findings of the paper shed light on the ways the newly emerged postsecondary education might modify the framework within which social inequalities have historically operated in the education system.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2022
EventHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference - Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Duration: 3 Dec 20223 Dec 2022


ConferenceHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


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