Overseas Visitors' Corner

Welcome to the Overseas Visitors' Corner!

Hong KongNote is a metropolitan city and aspires to be a regional education hub that attracts people from all over the world to live, work and study. We are right at the gateway of the Mainland, the world's fastest growing economy and have acute understanding of the business acumen on the Mainland as well as close social and cultural ties with our neighbouring provinces. It is our vision not only to attract and nurture talents for Hong Kong, but also for the region as a whole. Foreign students coming to study in Hong Kong would benefit from the good blend of eastern and western cultures. The English and Chinese speaking environment has enabled non-local students to adapt easily to our academic environment, as well as our city life.

To keep pace with the changing environment and respond to new trends in learning, Hong Kong's education system has undergone considerable reform over the past decade. We have reformed the academic structure, as well as the curriculum and assessment framework. We started implementing the New Academic Structure (NAS) in 2009, which represented another critical milestone in our education development. The NAS aims to enable students to enjoy education of a better quality, leading to a more comprehensive development in terms of knowledge, skills, positive values and attitudes. It provides multiple pathways for students' further studies and career development. The NAS also aligns Hong Kong with major international academic systems and facilitates better globalised articulation.

We hope it would help you understand the NAS, and assist to meet your aspirations to study in Hong Kong or to consider admitting our students to your institutions. You are welcome to browse other parts of this webpage for more details and updates to keep abreast of the latest developments of the NAS and the education system of Hong Kong.

Note: Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China

To sustain the development of Hong Kong as an international city and to meet the requirements of the increasingly diverse and complex environment, Hong Kong started to implement the New Academic Structure (NAS) in 2009, building on the success of the reform at basic education. As shown in international assessments like The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Hong Kong has been among the top regions/countries, reflecting Hong Kong students outperforming other students of the same age-group in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

With such great success at basic education, Hong Kong continues to strive for excellence in the curriculum reform at the global, societal and student levels. At the global level, the NAS aims to offer smoother alignment between the local and overseas academic structures and to promote student mobility between Hong Kong and other countries. At the societal level, the NAS continues to enhance its human capital to increase the competitiveness of Hong Kong as an international city. At the student level, the NAS can better prepare students for whole-person development and life-long learning according to their diverse interests, aptitudes and abilities.

Students under the NAS are expected to possess qualities which reflect their achievement of the following learning goals for whole-person development and lifelong learning:

  1. Become an informed and responsible citizen with a sense of national and global identity, appreciation of positive values and attitudes as well as Chinese culture, and respect for pluralism in society.
  2. Acquire and construct a broad and solid knowledge base, and to understand contemporary issues that may impact on students’ daily lives at personal, community, national and global levels.
  3. Become proficient in biliterate and trilingual communication for better study and life.
  4. Develop and apply generic skills in an integrative manner, and to become an independent and self-directed learner for future study and work.
  5. Use information and information technology ethically, flexibly and effectively.
  6. Understand one’s own interests, aptitudes and abilities, and to develop and reflect upon personal goals with aspirations for further studies and future career.
  7. Lead a healthy lifestyle with active participation in physical and aesthetic activities, and to appreciate sports and the arts.

The compulsory part of Mathematics includes three strands, including (1) Number and Algebra; (2) Measures, Shape and Space; and (3) Data Handling. These three strands aim to provide students with broader mathematical literacy to prepare for their further studies/career. For students who wish to study some basic Mathematics, they may take the compulsory part only.

For those students who would like to learn more Mathematics and study mathematics-related programmes like physical science in university, they could take one of the extended modules in Mathematics - Module 1 (Calculus and Statistics) or Module 2 (Algebra and Calculus). Students are only allowed to study one of the two extended modules in Mathematics as there is substantial overlapping. Respective faculties / programmes in universities generally require one of the extended modules.

Students' performance in the compulsory part and the extended modules are reported separately in the HKDSE Examination results.

The HKDSE qualification has secured wide recognition locally to enable students' articulation to multiple pathways.

Further Studies at Degree-awarding Tertiary Institutions

For admission to local publicly-funded institutions, as far as the four core subjects are concerned, students are required to attain Level 3 for Chinese LanguageNote and English Language and Level 2 for Mathematics and Liberal Studies (commonly known as “3322”) in the HKDSE Examination. In September 2010, the publicly-funded institutions announced the level requirements of the elective subjects as follows:

  • Senior secondary subjects - the requirements are generally Level 2 or Level 3.
  • ApL subjects - they are accepted as elective subjects, or considered for award of extra bonus or additional information by various institutions / faculties / programmes.
  • Other Language subjects - they are accepted as unspecified subjects, generally at the minimum requirement of Grade E, as extra elective subjects or additional information by various institutions / faculties / programmes.
  • Note for non-Chinese-speaking students:

    1. Institutions will continue to accept alternative Chinese qualifications (including the General Certificate of Secondary Education, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, and the General Certificate of Education) for students who have met the specified conditions: (a) students who have learned Chinese Language for less than 6 years while receiving primary and secondary education; (b) students who have learned Chinese Language for 6 years or more in schools, but have been taught an adapted and simpler Chinese Language curriculum not normally applicable to the majority of students in local schools.
    2. Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese Speaking students) courses (ApL(C)), is introduced, starting from the 2014/15 school year by phases, to provide an additional channel exclusively for non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students fulfilling the specified circumstances to obtain an alternative Chinese language qualification to enhance their further studies and employability. University Grants Committee-funded institutions and most post-secondary institutions accept ApL(C) as an alternative qualification in Chinese Language for the admission of non-Chinese speaking students with “Attained” as the minimum grade required.

    Further Studies at Post-secondary Institutions

    Students are eligible to apply for admission to Associate Degree (AD) / Higher Diploma (HD) programmes if they meet the minimum entrance requirements of Level 2 in five HKDSE subjects, including English Language and Chinese Language. A maximum of two ApL subjects will be counted in considering the application.


    Through the broad knowledge-base curriculum, due emphasis is put on the whole-person development of students, and the aforesaid qualities are nurtured to meet the needs of employers.The employer sector welcomes and shows robust support to the implementation of the NAS. The Hong Kong Government, being the largest employer in Hong Kong, has taken the lead in accepting the HKDSE qualification as the entry qualification requirement in recruiting civil service posts. Details are listed on the website of the Civil Service Bureau.

    The NAS facilitates smoother articulation with overseas education systems and the HKDSE has gained international recognition. At present, around 300 tertiary institutions worldwide have accepted HKDSE as meeting their admission requirements. Please visit HKEAA’s webpage for details. In the 2023/24 academic year, the total number of Mainland higher education institutions that accepts HKDSE candidates increases to 132. Read the Press Release and visit the webpage concerned for details.

    If you need more specific information, please contact us via email at nas@edb.gov.hk.