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The first day of last year’s DSE English-language examination at HKUGA Collage, Aberdeen. The examination authority will allow some students to sit the exam on the mainland. Photo: Handout

Hong Kong’s examination authority U-turn lets some candidates sit university entrance exams in mainland China

  • Examination authority to set up two assessment centres to let 110 candidates sit university entrance exams on mainland
  • It earlier insisted all candidates had to travel to Hong Kong for the exams

Hong Kong’s examination authority will allow some pupils to sit their university entrance exams in mainland China – a U-turn on previous policy after security fears over the transport and storage of exam papers were resolved.

The Examination and Assessment Authority on Tuesday said it would set up two university entrance assessment centres on the mainland for the first time to let about 110 pupils from Shenzhen Hong Kong Pui Kiu College Longhua Xinyi School and the Affiliated School of JNU for Hong Kong & Macau Students to sit the exams across the border.

The authority said exam papers would be transported by professional companies and monitored by a CCTV system. The exams would be cancelled if a major leak of questions was detected.

“We have had to sort out many minor details during the process, such as ensuring storage of exam papers in the two schools are secured,” an authority spokesman said. “We have asked them to make improvements over the past month.”

The first day of the 2023 DSE English-language examination at HKUGA College, Aberdeen. About 110 pupils will sit the exam in two assessment centres across the border. Photo: Handout

The authority said in early January pupils from the two mainland schools would have to travel to Hong Kong to sit the exams because the establishment of assessment centres across the border needed further discussions.

But 1,300 mainland pupils not studying in the two schools will still have to travel to Hong Kong for the exam, as the latest arrangement was launched on a pilot basis because of a lack of experience in setting up assessment centres outside the city.

The spokesman revealed two other schools on the mainland had applied to become Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) participating schools. He added exam paper transport was rehearsed and resolved this month. The spokesman said Hong Kong and mainland authorities had approved the arrangements.

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The city’s DSE exams will kick off in April, with the first core subject scheduled for April 11 and most of the elective subjects to be held from April 18.

The spokesman said the exam papers for the various subjects would be stored in locked boxes and transported on different days.

“During the transport of the exam papers, authority staff will be there and surveillance cameras will be installed in the vehicle for monitoring,” he added.

“The locked boxes containing the exam papers will be placed in storerooms with locks after clearance at the border.”

Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. The city’s DSE exams will kick off in April. Photo: May Tse

The storerooms, designated as exam areas, will be monitored by CCTV systems.

“The areas will be administered by the authority during the exam period, and staff from the two schools will not be allowed to enter,” the spokesman said. “Security staff will be stationed there.”

He added candidates’ answer papers would be scanned before they were sent back to Hong Kong.

The spokesman said that if a paper was leaked before the exam across the border the authority would follow existing rules to deal with the problem.

“Even in Hong Kong, exam papers may potentially get leaked. We will assess the seriousness of the leak and decide accordingly,” he added.

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“If it is extremely serious, the entire exam will be cancelled. However, I believe the chance of a paper leak is very slim.”

The spokesman said the test centre supervisors and invigilators will be hired in Hong Kong and travel to the two schools.

The authority did not reveal further details or the cost of the new arrangements.

Wong Wai-shing, the vice-principal of Shenzhen Hong Kong Pui Kiu College Longhua Xinyi School, said the change of heart was good news for parents of the 60 students sitting the exams this year.

“The new arrangement saves students from long-distance travel and is fair to them,” Wong said. “Initially, parents were concerned about arranging accommodation for their children during the exam period.”