Information and guidance for adults returning to higher education in Hong Kong: a case study

Kwok, Ka Yin (2009) Information and guidance for adults returning to higher education in Hong Kong: a case study. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

All investors aim at maximizing the returns on their investment. Many individuals in the workforce invest in themselves by the pursuit of further studies on a part-time basis in order to better equip themselves, face the challenges ahead and map out a brighter career path. Yet, they may make their educational decisions without adequate data and support, which leads to a less-than-optimal choice. They sometimes overestimate the potential of salary increase and career advancement upon finishing the programme. This research is undertaken to examine how individual people in the Hong Kong workforce seek information to make their decisions for their part-time education programmes.

A combination of quantitative questionnaire survey and qualitative semi-structured interviews was adopted in this research. A questionnaire survey was carried out with a sample size of 55 university students in part-time evening classes. Then, a sub-sample of 16 students took part in the semi-structured interviews. Using grounded theory, I identified eight different themes from the results: motivation to study; information-seeking process; information needs and obtainment; difficulties in information-seeking process; perceptions of returns on human capital investment; comparison between human capital investment and financial investment; career guidance services and labour relations in Hong Kong. The quantitative data from questionnaires are analysed for better triangulation, verification and contextualisation of the research findings.

There are several findings in this study. First, the returnees to higher education who participated in this research were motivated by a wide range of factors. Secondly, educational institutions and peers were their key information sources. Thirdly, they would rather focus on the details relating to their interested programme than aim at a broader view including information on the current labour market situation and the possible outcomes upon accomplishment of their programme. Another point is the insufficient information they obtained. This could not fulfil their genuine needs. Moreover, different obstacles existed in the returnees’ intrinsic characters, information sources and interactions between the returnees and the information sources during their information searching process. Following that, most returnees perceived that information on projections of returns on human capital investment was generally important in their educational decision making. Besides, they believed further studies were of low risk with long-term benefits but financial investment was of high risk with short-term benefits. In addition, they showed misunderstanding and lack of awareness about career guidance services. Furthermore, self-efficacy in educational decision making is determined by a number of factors affecting maturity. Finally, it is found that the labour relations in Hong Kong have been showing signs of deterioration.

A number of implications for policy based on the findings are identified in this research. To begin with, guidance services catering for the special needs of individuals in the workforce and part-time students should be developed and widely promoted. Besides, past cohorts can be invited as informal mentors and volunteers to answer questions from the prospective returnees. Following the point mentioned above, partnership programmes can be established between lecturers and guidance officers in educational institutions to create a win-win situation. Information providers can pay more attention to ensure that quality of information provided is accurate, up-to-date and specific. What’s more, projections of returns on human capital investment and risk management are necessary to be included as part of the basic programme information. Last but not the least, a credit accumulation and transfer system should be developed among institutions of higher education in Hong Kong.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Supervisors:Atkin, C.
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
ID Code:994
Deposited By:Ka Yin KWOK
Deposited On:14 May 2010 11:56
Last Modified:14 May 2010 11:56

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