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Sub-degree, including Associate Degree (AD) and Higher Diploma (HD), qualification is a valuable standalone exit qualification for further studies and employment in administrative and management positions at entry level.

Articulation of sub-degree graduates

The Government also encourages lifelong learning under the Qualifications Framework. To open up more study pathways for sub-degree graduates, from the 2015/16 academic year and in the triennium that follows, the intake of senior year undergraduate places in UGC-funded institutions will progressively increase by a total of 1 000 places, i.e. from 4 000 to 5 000 per annum. In other words, 5 000 meritorious sub-degree graduates will be able to articulate to subsidised degree programmes each year starting from the 2018/19 academic year. As for self-financing top-up degree programmes, the number of intake places has been doubled from around 3 000 in the 2010/11 academic year to approximately 9 000 in the 2023/24 academic year to provide even more opportunities for sub-degree graduates to pursue further studies.

For full-time locally-accredited self-financing and subvented sub-degree programmes not covered by JUPAS, please visit the Information Portal for Accredited Post-secondary Programmes (iPASS). Current Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) candidates may use the Electronic Advance Application System for Post-secondary Programmes (E-APP) to lodge advance applications for full-time locally-accredited post-secondary programmes not covered by the JUPAS.


Sub-degree graduates are also equipped with skills for employment at elementary management level or associate professional level. In this connection, the Government has taken the lead to recognize sub-degree qualifications. At present, sub-degree qualifications are accepted as one of the entry requirements for appointment to 14 civil service grades.

Besides, sub-degree graduates are considered as having met the entry requirements of civil service grades requiring sub-degree or lower qualifications. On the whole, sub-degree graduates can apply for about 80 civil service grades. Please visit the section of "Job Opportunities" in the Civil Service Bureau's Homepage for further information.

The Government has also accepted that holders of local accredited Higher Diplomas and Associate Degrees will be regarded as having attained Level 3 in English Language and Level 2 in Chinese Language in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) for civil service appointments. For details, please refer to the following webpage:

For employment in the private sector, the Government will continue to promote the sub-degree qualification and enhance its recognition in the job market.

A series of measures has been implemented, including:

  1. The Common Descriptors for sub-degree programmes have set out the requirements in areas such as entrance requirements, curriculum content, programme objectives and learning outcomes, so as to better define and differentiate the sub-degree qualifications; and

  2. A set of good practices for the sub-degree sector has been compiled having regard to the good practices of the institutions concerned in Hong Kong and overseas, and promulgation of the Handbook on Good Practices in Quality Assurance for the sub-degree sector on the essential principles and practices in quality assurance.

Last Review Date: 18/01/2024