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Posted: 7th June 2018

water fountains

Last week our Head of Careers Miss Bendle returned from a week-long visit to Hong Kong on a tour of the country’s finest universities. Whilst on her travels, Miss Bendle documented her experiences and has kindly given an insight into what she got up to during her visit:

On Wednesday, I first attended at 9am meeting at HKUST (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) with the Engineering Faculty, At this meeting, I met Ms. Patricia Lai (Assistant Director of Admissions for Engineering), with whom I eagerly discussed two brand new programmes: Integrative Systems and Design (which allows for transdisciplinary research) and the joint HKUST-Exeter degree programme, which combines a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from HKUST with an LLM or JD in Law from the University of Exeter in the UK. When asking whether CSFC students would be competitive in these programme, they could not help but express their preference for our calibre of students who are highly academic, who aspire to do their best and who are so mature and independent already, having made the courageous step to live and study in the UK. They were also thankful for CSFC offering GCE A Level curriculum which they find one of the most rigorous in the world, which they believe help to strengthen students as the subjects are learnt in a lot more depth. I was truly amazed at the sheer variety of options that engineering students can have in HKUST, where they can ‘dip’ into different disciplines with ease with their broad-based school entry; this gives the students much more flexibility than what the UK does, whereby upon application they are committed to a specific pathway.

At 11am, I had a meeting in CityU (City University of Hong Kong) to learn more about their Law and Veterinary Medicine programmes at the university. I was hugely impressed at the scope and future development for the Bachelors in Veterinary Medicine (BVM), Hong Kong’s only programme, which already has study abroad options in Cornell University in the USA! We spoke at length about CityU’s renowned reputation for its excellence and speciality in aquaculture and fish husbandry, alongside public health and food safety research. Having spoken to Dr Emily Cheng (Director of Admissions Office) and Dr Philip Scott (Admissions Tutor for Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine) at great length about a variety of their other programmes, including the joint degree programmes with Columbia University, such as Business Economics and Computer Science. Having recently been ranked #49th in the QS World Rankings 2018, I walked away very confident that a CSFC alumnus would have incredible opportunities if they were to attend this university upon leaving Cardiff.

At 1pm, I revisited the spectacular campus of HKU (The University of Hong Kong) where I caught up with Ms. Vicky Chan (Senior Programme Manager) and organised another individual meeting with the Medicine faculty, including Dr Gordon Wong (Assistant Dean for Student and Training Affairs) and Mr. Derek Lam (Schools Liaison Officer). We spoke at length about how much HKU Medicine faculty highly ranks applications from CSFC students who demonstrate outstanding academic quality, which is one of their top considerations when shortlisting applicants. Moreover, they praise our students’ worldliness and open-mindedness at interview, especially when discussing polemic or ethical considerations. This year so far, we have 4 students with conditional offers for Medicine, which is more than we have ever seen at this point in the year!

When asking them what they would recommend our next round of applicants, they emphasised how they do not expect any clinical knowledge at this point, rather they were keen to highlight their passion for humanitarian service and social awareness, and how they wish to see students devoted to their communities before they even get to university or their future profession. Voluntary work is becoming increasingly more important across all degree disciplines, and this is something that all of our students in CSFC should endeavour to do alongside their A Level studies. Moreover, they were also eager to reiterate that they are keen to see students applying with varying A Level combinations; in their words, more humanities the merrier!

Despite a very busy (and incredibly hot!) day, I woke up energised to visit a new university for me, PolyU (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.) Amazed by its tranquillity, despite its central location, I thoroughly enjoyed by tour of the campus from Ms. Marie Mourasheh (International Affairs Officer) which followed a constructive meeting with Marie and Carl Tang (Manager of the International Affairs Office.) For me, one of the most eye-opening opportunities that PolyU can offer students is its mandatory Service Learning pedagogy, which aims to combine a meaningful community service with reflective practices in academic to enrich the students’ learning experience. In a lot of cases, accredited modules in their area of study can be offered as part of their credits, or if an individual so wishes, they can choose to volunteer overseas.

We also discussed at depth about CSFC students’ applications to their university, predominantly for healthcare careers for which they are world renowned, including Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. My visit even included a personalised guided tour of the incredible teaching facilities, led by Dr Priya Kannan, Associate Professor in Physiotherapy. The main overarching message I received from my visit is that whilst it is a university which indeed values high quality teaching and learning, its key motivation is to train students ready for the outside world, to seamlessly transition from education to their profession.

I  spent my afternoon returning to HKUST for a meeting with the Business faculty. This included Jessica Lo (Assistant Manager of Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions in School of Business and Management) and Harriet Ng (Assistant Director of the World Bachelor in Business Programme). I sought to find out lots more about their triple degree programme, the World Bachelor of Business, alongside the University of Southern California, USA, and Bocconi in Milan, Italy, which to me, sounds like an incredible opportunity not to miss for a student who wishes for an internationalised learning experience with increased employability world-wide! A level performance is of course one way of standing out to help being selective in this programme, but what took me by surprise is that this course does not provide conditional offers based on A Levels, rather performance in the SAT or ACT admissions test, which can help to alleviate any stress about having to meet conditions in A2 examinations! Beyond this programme, we keenly shared our enthusiasm for their new minor programmes in Big Data and Entrepreneurship, two areas of business and economics which are becoming more and more prevalent today. 

No visit to Hong Kong would have been complete without another trip to the Chinese University of Hong Kong. This time, I attended the Information Seminar for International School Counsellors where I had the opportunity to listen to an opening address by Professor Suk-Ying Wong (Associate Vice-President and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid) about her vision for CUHK to develop students’ soft skills for the ever-changing and turbulent careers landscape. Keen to develop students’ sense of team work and empathy, she passionately shared her beliefs and trust in the college system to help students live, work and breathe alongside students from other academic disciplines and backgrounds to help develop tolerance, acceptance and inclusion.

 As well as following an excellent programme of events organised by Mr Francis Chan (Admissions Officer) and Ms Annie Kung (Assistant Director of Admissions), I was honoured to have attended an exclusive meeting with Professor Vincent Mok (Assistant Dean of Medicine Admissions) and Ms. Sammi Lee (Executive Officer in the Faculty of Medicine). I could not believe how complimentary and commendatory they were of our CSFC students, who are exactly what they look for in their medicine candidates. I discovered that out of 20 A Level offers they have given to students so far (May 2018), 18 of them have been given to Cardiff Sixth Form College; this has been the highest number of offers given to our students ever, even after results days and unconditional offers made in August. 

Always seeking for improvement and ways for our students to stand out even more, we discussed the value and relevance of an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). They were full of praise about how it prepares students for undergraduate studying, and deepening their knowledge and passion in an area of interest to them and their future career, and thus they fully recommend it, if it can be done well. Even more impressive was how it can actually replace an A Level in a conditional offer: e.g. instead of a typical 4 A* offer, they could consider 3 A* plus an EPQ!

While I was there I also met two CSFC Alumni and now CUHK Student Ambassadors who are now in their fourth year of MBChB Medicine – Jacqueline and Tiffany, who are very much enjoying their education in CUHK and looking forward to welcoming our Class of 2018 students to the Medicine course this Autumn.

After a very busy working week, I was looking forward to some down time on Saturday before meeting our current and future parents of CSFC students. An event hosted at the Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers led to over 40 parents and future students to come. For this event, I conducted a presentation on the application processes and what students will need to do over the summer to increase their strength and quality of their application. I also elaborated upon the use of data to help make informed decisions as to university choices, but also a talk about Oxford and Cambridge universities, and whether they are a good ‘fit’ for the student. Afterwards, I was happy to receive any individual questions about their child’s own career plan and goals. Despite this being CSFC’s first careers orientated parent event, these four hours spent speaking to our devoted parents was hugely positive and they were incredibly thankful for my visit and where they could ask direct questions and ask for advice so freely and comfortably.

Having nothing but praise for the careers department and the college as a whole from universities and parents alike, I left Hong Kong with a beaming smile and even more committed to helping our students getting successful offers from their top universities worldwide!

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