Generation 40s – 四十世代

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「狀元」學校新征途

信報財經新聞
銘想英國
2017-02-18

陳思銘

Cardiff Sixth Form College有「全英最有腦學校」之稱,其學術成績之優異可想而知。這間英國排名第一的A Level學校,校園任何風吹草動自然都會受到矚目,早在幾個月前,有關Cardiff Sixth Form College的各種謠言猜測已經甚囂塵上,預示有大件事即將發生,未幾馬上傳來大地震:學校創辦人Yasmin Sarwar離開自己一手一腳建立並創出驕人成績的學校。

轟動「分手」消息

Yasmin Sarwar與Cardiff Sixth Form College「分手」的消息,成為近日英國教育界最沸騰的話題。兩者各奔向怎樣的前程,亦是全國目光所向。據悉Yasmin Sarwar已投身Oxford International College,將會舉辦嶄新的世界課程,推動新的教育理念。

至於Cardiff Sixth Form College,校長一職由Gareth Collier出任,學校並且將由Duke’s Education所收購。有問Duke’s Education何方神聖也?這個教育機構成立於1999年,本身有涉足出版界,不少人曾聞Duke’s Education之名,都是多得他們出版過的一本著名攻考牛津劍橋的攻略書籍So you want to go Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana…。事實上對於事業路迷惘的學生來說,Duke’s Education的存在有如黑暗中的明燈,在協助學生升學及就業發展上,有着出色的表現及豐富的經驗。近年來為各大小學校舉辦過升學及職業訓練講座、工作坊無數,也把好些學校外判出去的職業發展部門辦得有聲有色。集團近年銳意辦學,Cardiff Sixth Form College之前,被收歸旗下的學校已有3間,分別是位於倫敦北部的Fine Arts College;位於倫敦西部,專攻醫療科學科目的Acorn College;以及在Kent的Rochester Independent College。可以想像,能夠接手這間位於威爾斯首都的英國頂級名校,這企業集團當然也絕非泛泛之輩。

Cardiff Sixth Form College現有如此具規模及經驗的集團作後盾,加上企業化管理、新的資金和更充裕資源的情況下,會有一番什麼景象,大家都急不及待想知道。許多家長學生尤其關注的是,當學校走出Yasmin Sarwar所創造的神話,走向集團企業化,其學術上的佳績是否能夠保持?為了釐清各方疑惑,新校長Gareth Collier真的不遺餘力,更會親臨香港,講解學校變天後的最新情況,解答家長和學生的問題。

然而,大地震才剛震完,許多都仍是未知之數。想真正了解Cardiff Sixth Form College的何去何從,大家還是得耐心拭目以待它今後的表現。


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Asian Americans’ complaint against ‘unfair’ Harvard admissions underlines need for meritocracy

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2015-06-25

Amy Wu

Amy Wu says a lawsuit against Harvard for alleged discrimination against Asian Americans reflects widespread unease with a practice that will erode society’s competitiveness

Last month, a coalition of Asian American groups filed a lawsuit against Harvard University for discrimination in its admissions practices. It was about time.

The lawsuit argues that Harvard is unfairly rejecting high-scoring Asian American candidates on racial grounds. According to third-party research, Ivy League institutions such as Harvard discriminate against such candidates, not least by setting them a higher bar for standardised test scores.

The lawsuit has its supporters, but there’s also been a firestorm of backlash against Asians. And while the lawsuit is based on race, the more critical argument that is too often sidelined concerns merit.

Merit needs to be fostered. Whether it’s university admissions, employment or a sports team recruitment, available positions should go to the most qualified candidates. This is for the good of both the organisation and the individual. Companies should hire candidates that best meet the needs of the job.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against diversity. Ideally, people of various backgrounds and cultures contribute to the richness of a society. Racial and ethnic diversity can potentially and ideally add desired resources to underserved communities.

A case in point is the US medical world, where three out of four physicians are white/non-Hispanic, 17.2 per cent are Asian or other races, and just 5.3 per cent are Hispanic and 3.8 per cent black. Understandably, some predominantly black communities may feel more comfortable going to health care providers who share a similar skin colour. However, more often, I hear people say they choose their doctors based on skills.

A good friend at a medical school pointed out that some Hispanic and black applicants will be accepted to the college on a lower admissions test score than applicants of other races. But, very often, those students need remedial classes to bring them up to the level of their fellow students. The institution needs to bring in additional resources to try to get them up to speed.

The students themselves know they are “special”; they would not qualify for admission based purely on academic and school activity records.

Altering and lowering the bar to admit students who simply aren’t qualified is doing them a disservice. These students risk being overwhelmed and their chances of dropping out, losing confidence and becoming disillusioned are heightened.

Again, the argument extends beyond race. Last year, more than 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from US universities because they performed poorly or cheated, according to WholeRen Education, a US consultancy that caters to Chinese students. And rightfully so, because they didn’t qualify.

On the flip side, why should those who are qualified – in this case, high-scoring Asian American students – need to sacrifice a piece of the pie for another racial/ethnic group who are poorer performers? Maybe universities need to find a way to increase the size of the pie?

In the US, there are a myriad of programmes, such as the government-funded Head Start programme, that attempt to equalise the playing field for children from various socioeconomic backgrounds.

Why not, then, focus on expanding such programmes from nursery school to primary and secondary schools as a potential remedy? At some point, we must put aside the race debate and focus on merit for the good of the whole, to keep society competitive.

After all, wasn’t it the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping who argued that, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice”?

Amy Wu is an American-born Chinese writer and commentator


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Cracking down on SAT exam prep industry could help Beijing stem student ‘brain drain’

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2014-10-15

Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang says concern over a student brain drain could lead Beijing to target SAT exam prep centres, with far-reaching consequences

Imagine having to recite the United States’ pledge of allegiance before buying a handbag. That’s how Beijing views the heavy emphasis on US founding documents in the new SAT – the standardised exam for US university admissions. The coveted handbag here is an American education.

In August, I wrote about the new SAT’s focus on US founding documents and how it will affect China. Xinhua called the new SAT a new form of “ideology intrusion” and “imperialism”.

As China tries to limit what it sees as the “inappropriate Western influence” of students in the Hong Kong protests, Beijing will find the threat of more ideological intrusion worrying. Beijing, Fudan and Sun Yat-sen universities all vowed recently to have stricter ideological control over students.

Yet exams are trickier to control than weibo posts. Chinese students, on average, study 10 times harder for the SAT than US students – an estimated 150-200 hours compared with 20-30 hours. From 2016, when the SAT changes, they will spend those hours poring over the US Bill of Rights and American civil liberties, including the right to democracy.

The question is not whether Beijing will crack down on the new SAT – it will: but how? The exam is not administered on the mainland, but over the border in Hong Kong, so Beijing can’t “ban” it. Far more effective would be to ban test preparation. For this, China already has full jurisdiction.

Like Hong Kong, all mainland after-school tutoring and test prep centres are regulated by the Ministry of Education, which issues licences before they can operate. But the rules for registration are vague and complicated and many operate illegally. Beijing can easily step up the regulations; if it wanted to, it could crush the new SAT in a second.

Even without the new threat of ideological intrusion, exams such as the SAT and TOEFL are in a precarious situation, because of China’s huge brain drain. Today there are 235,000 mainland students at US universities. Once they go abroad, they tend to stay abroad. In 2013, 8.5 million Chinese were living abroad, while only 848,000 had moved to China, says a report by the Centre for China & Globalisation. The People’s Daily calls it “the world’s worst brain drain”.

China has tried to solve the problem by attracting more foreign students. Recently, Beijing University set up its Yenching Academy, an all-expenses-paid, one-year graduate programme aimed at foreigners.

However, such programmes do not solve the core problem – the annual student vanishing act. Cracking down on the SAT test prep industry might.

If China does shrink its brain drain, the ramifications will be huge. It’s to America’s advantage that the Chinese have an insatiable appetite for US education, and that US universities don’t just serve Americans, but the world.

Ultimately, Beijing may complain that the new SAT is unfair because it is like making its people recite the pledge of allegiance before buying a handbag. But the truth is, Beijing doesn’t want its people buying that handbag any more – pledge or no pledge.

Kelly Yang teaches SAT at The Kelly Yang Project, an after-school centre for writing and debate in Hong Kong. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School.


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設貸款方案 助年輕人留學

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C04 | 優質教育 | 教育講論 | By 何偉倫 |
2013-11-16

早前行政長官辦公室公布,委任獲羅德獎學金到牛津大學修畢社會學碩士「浸過鹹水」的黎穎瑜為勞工及福利局局長政治助理;羅德獎學金不但歷史悠久,而且國際知名,不少羅德學人已成為舉足輕重的國際領袖及學者,前美國總統克林頓及前美國國務卿賴斯也是羅德學人。

一時興致,翻看了相關資料,原來不少副局長及政治助理均「浸過鹹水」,我們甚至可以追溯至上任行政長官曾蔭權首批委任的政治助理,原來九位生力軍中只有一位是徹頭徹尾的「土炮」。「浸過鹹水」的人命運是否會改寫,一直以來眾說紛紜;但出外留學始終在不少人心中佔有一定的份量。

對此引伸值得探討的問題是,能否設貸款方案,以助年輕人留學……

現時本港確實有為數不少的獎學金頒發給香港學生出外留學:比方說新加坡政府自1970 年起,開始頒發安排給香港學生的獎學金便最為全面,由小學每年2,000元坡幣的獎學金,到中學及大學先修班每年的類近津貼另附加膳宿開支、機票及學費,以至研究生課程都有相關資助。

提供給本地大學畢業生前赴海外深造及作專業培訓的獎學金也有不少:李寶椿慈善信託基金的獎學金最高款額為每年12萬港元,但資助期則通常以不超過兩年;另一邊廂,尤德爵士紀念基金海外獎學金的最高金額為每年28.3萬港元,最長為期三年(修讀博士學位)。

可惜的是大部分出外留學的獎學金的評審甄選過程均十分艱苦,所訂的門檻亦很高,除了要有優良的讀書成績,又要有多元的學識及廣闊的視野,而良好的溝通能力更是不可少看的,因為部分獎學金的申請人要和評審委員聚餐或呷咖啡。因此,考得上一些知名的無償留學獎學金,可能較成為會考狀元需要更深厚的實力。

本地大學生要在三/四年的大學生活中拿獎學金也不是太困難,只要有好的學業成績,上課態度認真或在運動和服務等方面有些成就,便可以在形形色色的獎學金中找到配對。只是出外留學的獎學金往往僧多粥少,除非特別「標青」,否則難以在本科畢業後在短時間內取得獎學金,因而有不少新畢業的學士學位持有人,原來躊躇滿志的計劃去「浸浸鹹水,開開眼界」,或出國讀一個研究學位,為某範疇作一些貢獻,但一團進修熱情往往慢慢幻化為所謂「多年媳婦熬成婆」的心態,因為到了擁有財政實力前赴海外進修之時,已經踏入了需要為組織家庭,購買物業及結婚產子等人生大事作決定的另一人生階段。

出國研修不僅有助打開自身的視野,還能觀察其他地方的文化,繼而進一步思考未來求學就業的走向。出國研修的前期準備工作也是一個訓練自我能力及學習獨立的好機會。決定申請怎樣的學府也要一定的工夫,不同的學府的風格往往大相逕庭,古老的大學有着悠久紮實而堅定的教研基礎,但盛名遠揚又可能及不上充滿活力及創新風氣的年輕大學。然而嶄新的教育環境、截然不同教育概念刺激,理應對尋求個人路向有一定的正面作用。

設常態性留學貸款方案

政府在早前發表了人口政策諮詢文件,就如何提升本地人力資源等議題展開公眾諮詢。我們是否可以考慮設立一個「常態性留學貸款方案」,讓年輕人在二十出頭便可出外留學,為未來的人生路向探索一番。鄰近香港的台北市在早年推出「青年留學免息貸款」,申請對象為二十歲至四十歲的年輕人,貸款者可享首十年免利息優惠出國修讀研究課程。免息貸款方案提供每年八百個研究生課程及兩百個專科技術證照名額 (所謂專技證照則以修讀航空飛行及餐飲酒店管理為多)。以去年為例,六成申請人前赴美國攻讀研究學位,前赴英國修讀研究學位者也佔了兩成。

近年本地的航空運輸業發展迅速,餐飲及酒店管理的人才亦出現短缺,設立類似台北市的留學貸款方案讓年輕人一步一步邁向心儀專業之餘,也可以令香港在人力資源的軟實力得以提升。再者本地研究院的學額中,國援(內地生)及外援(外地生)的比重正不斷膨脹,研究院的學額在過去十年增加了84%,但本地研究生的份額反而由59% 被攤薄至25%,留學貸款方案將有助化解本地生希望透過進修尋找專業出路,但又「缺水」的困局。

從社會整體的角度而言,設立一個「常態性留學貸款方案」讓年輕人可以出外留學,是一項有策略性的人力資本投資,讓申請人在學成後享有首十年免利息優惠的規定,則有助於他們在學成後回流並專心「搏殺」。更重要的是,透過他們在外所建立的人際網絡及多元知識,將進一步改善本港的人囗素質及營商能量。

撰文︰何偉倫
新力量網絡研究員


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留學東京經濟大學Q&A

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C03 | 優質教育 | 海外升學 | By 馬挺 |
2013-08-31

香港學生熱門的留學國家,除了英國、美國、澳洲外,本地受着東瀛文化影響下,不少學生也愛選擇留學日本。縱使本地有不少日語學校提供升學指南,但大多只是修讀日語為主,甚少涉及到當地升讀大學。

想到日本升讀大學要有什麼條件?可從哪個教育機構着手?日本早稻田大學政經系講師、中國廈門大學新聞系客座教授馬挺,以深入淺出的「教授與學生對談錄」中,予學子一一解答升讀日本大學的疑問。

編者按:最近香港的廖美惠同學,向在日本的大學執教的馬挺老師,請教關於如何才能去日本留學。將他們的對話摘錄如下。

廖: 馬老師,我希望能到日本的大學留學。可是還沒有什麼肯定的想法,最好是跟經濟、經營、金融等等有關的吧。

馬: 那我給你介紹一下東京經濟大學吧,我在那裏兼課,教中文。這是日本一所歷史悠久的大學。前身是大倉商業學校,是在1900年由當時日本的大倉財閥的設立者大倉喜八郎創立的。目的就是為了培養從事商業的國際性人才。戰後,1949年升格為大學。

廖: 有些什麼學科呢?

馬: 主要是有關財經的,如經濟學部( 也就是經濟系)。裏面有經濟學科( 也就是專業)和國際經濟學科。還有經營學部,下設經營學科和流通市場學科。另外,還有交流(Communication)學部和現代法學部。都是比較有實力的系和專業,本科學生六千五百人,著名教授也很多。各系各專業近年來都在積極招收中國大陸、港澳和台灣地區的留學生。目前約有留學生九十人。

廖: 考起來一定很難吧!我的日語只是入門程度。馬: 那恐怕聽日本老師講課是有困難的……

廖: 聽說到日本留學還要通過日語考試呢!

馬: 是的,一般是要通過「日本留學試驗(考試)」和「日本語能力試驗」。這就是我之所以要給你特別介紹這所大學的理由。因為東京經濟大學對於留學生不要求一定要通過這兩項考試。

廖: 有這麼方便的事嗎?

馬: 倒不是方便不方便,而是東京經濟大學採用一套獨自的招收外國留學生的系統。比如「日本語能力試驗」就不需要,因為只要能夠得到該大學認可的幾所日語學校的推薦,就有資格參加留學生入學考試。

廖: 不過「日本語學校」的名聲好像不太好……馬: 前些年,「日本語學校」一哄而起,魚目混珠,結果造成混亂,給到日本學日語的留學生帶來很大損失。但經過整頓,現在日本的「日本語學校」的經營都比較規範了。而且,有資格向東京經濟大學推薦參加考試的,都是經過該大學認定的日本語學校。其根據是由日本文部科學大臣指定的學校。廖: 有哪些「日本語學校」呢?

馬: 具體的你可以到網上查一下, 網址是(http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/koutou/shikaku/07111314/001.htm)。我聽我的一位來自香港的留學生講,他是在一所名為「東京國際大學附屬日本語學校」畢業,得到推薦,考入東京經濟大學的。根據我的經驗,由大學辦的日本語學校水準比較高,教學態度也比較嚴謹。據我那位學生說,東京國際大學附屬日本語學校是全日本唯一的全日制日語學校。

廖: 還有不是全日制的嗎?

馬: 很多日語學校都是半天上課,餘下的時間,學生們就可以去打工了。顯而易見,這樣學習效率就不會很高。你如果沒有必要打很多的工,我覺得還是用盡時間趕快學好日語,考上大學。當然我也知道還有一些全日制的日語學校,比如慶應義塾大學的「日本語中心」,有關日語和日本文化的教育水準非常高。但那裏主要是面對已經取得大學畢業資格的學生的。

廖: 那要報名「東京國際大學附屬日本語學校」,也一定是很麻煩的……

馬: 正因為不太麻煩,我才給你介紹的。據說,這所學校在香港有辦事處或稱辦公室。具體情況你在網上查一查,確認一下。如果確實,那對於像你這樣的香港學子,就比較方便了。

日本是分春、秋兩個學期。這個學校也應該是分兩次招生。當然,還要考慮到獲取日本留學簽證的時間等等。學費可能是半年40萬日圓左右。日圓滙率有變動,這也需要確認。

廖: 是半年交一次嗎?

馬: 一般是這樣的。第一次可能還要另交入學金等等的吧。另外,日本的大學招生,包括留學生,都要求有滿12年的學歷。但具體到香港,一般是差一年。而上語言學校,往往可以被算作學歷。

廖: 那可以說是一舉兩得了!

馬: 我的那位香港學生,在這所日語學校學了一年半,提出志願,希望投考東京經濟大學。日語學校考慮到他的成績,同意推薦他。

廖: 那麼還要考試嗎?

馬: 當然。當東京經濟大學同意他參加考試後,就會給他寄來一份「出願願書(考試申請書)」和35,000的考試費用滙款單。當你按時間要求提出「願書」、滙出費用後,大學會通知你筆試和面試的時間。

廖: 考試內容很難嗎?

馬: 聽我的學生講,筆試只考了一篇日文作文。然後就是面試。再就是等待錄取通知了。廖: 要是這樣,我倒很想挑戰一下。

馬: 你說的「挑戰」很重要。不管外部條件好壞,重要的還是自己是否努力了。另外,有關的規定等等,每年都可能有或大或小的改變,一定要通過官方網站查清楚,再開始行動。

廖: 那我還不太懂日文,怎麼辦呢?

馬: 比如東京經濟大學的網頁就設有英文版:http://www.tku.ac.jp/english/,可以查詢。廖: 明白了,謝謝馬老師!

馬: 不用謝!希望你努力!

(筆者注:文中有關專案等,都須與有關機構最新情況、規定等核准。)

撰文︰馬挺
日本早稻田大學政經系講師、
中國廈門大學新聞系客座教授