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Hong Kong universities: What the September semester will look like

hong kong universities
This picture taken on June 6, 2020 shows a security guard (R) watching as a women (C) walks through barriers put up around the perimeter of Hong Kong Polytechnic University following the two-week on-campus battle in November 2019 between police and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. - Hong Kong on June 9, 2020 marks a year since pro-democracy protests erupted, but a resumption of city-wide unrest is unlikely as activists reel from mass arrests, coronavirus bans on public gatherings and a looming national security law. Source: Isaac Lawrence/AFP

Hong Kong universities will soon reopen for the September 2020 semester as the country grapples with a new wave of coronavirus cases.

Once a model on managing the pandemic, with life and education pretty much undisturbed, the city is on edge as it had another record number of COVID-19 infections yesterday. Last Friday, the Hong Kong government said kindergarten, primary and secondary schools will be closed until further notice.

How will this new development affect its universities? Here’s what we know so far:

1. Hong Kong universities will still teach online

All eight publicly funded Hong Kong universities have suspended face-to-face classes since February, shifting learning online.

hong kong universities

Pedestrians walk across a road in Hong Kong on July 20, 2020. Source: Anthony Wallace/AFP

Come September, these Hong Kong universities will “gradually or partially return” to in-person classes for the 2020/21 academic year, according to the South China Morning Post:

  • University of Hong Kong (HKU)
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Chinese University (CUHK)
  • City University (CityU)
  • Lingnan University

At HKU, international students who are unable to return to Hong Kong due to visa, quarantine or travel arrangement issues will be able to access materials online for the first three weeks of the semester.

CityU will deliver lessons “primarily online” this semester. Lingnan University is adopting a blended approach of face-to-face and online classes — if “all goes well,” it would reopen campus fully.

2. Smaller classes may be able to resume

Whether face-to-face classes will resume in your university will depend on the number of pupils in a specific class and the ability of lecture halls to accommodate physical distancing.

HKU, for example, will allow in-person sessions for classes no more than 25 pupils. Lectures with more than 90 students will proceed online this term.

3. Flexible deadlines for application

Applicants to HKU have until noon of Aug. 20, 2020 (Hong Kong time) to submit their applications. Documents, updates to academic evidence and reference letters can be submitted after the application.

hong kong universities

Students sit for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) university entrance exams in Hong Kong on April 24, 2020. – University entrance exams in Hong Kong began on April 24 with temperature checks and social distancing measures put in place at exam venues to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Source: Jerome Favre/Pool/AFP

CUHK is similarly allowing and considering late applications after the deadline. Its website states: “The University is prepared to take into consideration, in the event of disruption or cancellation of exams (e.g. IB, GCE A Levels), results/grading/certification (or other relevant arrangements) issued by the relevant examination authorities or schools. In selection for admission, these will be accepted as evidence of their academic potentials, which will be holistically considered together with all relevant academic and non-academic achievements and experiences, and performance at interview (where applicable).

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