LegCo Panel on Public Service
Meeting on 28 April 1997
Assessment of Non-local Qualifications
for Appointment to the Civil Service


This paper briefs Members on the mechanism for the assessment of qualifications obtained outside Hong Kong for appointment to the civil service.

General Policy

2. It is government policy that individual tertiary institutions, professional bodies and employers are free to exercise their discretion in accepting academic and/or professional qualifications for admission or employment. The Government does not interfere with or advise on acceptance of qualifications by individual institutions/ employers and does not offer general recognition to individual qualifications.

Qualifications Assessment for Civil Service Appointments

3. For civil service appointments, the Government sets entry requirements of civil service grades with reference to academic or professional qualifications obtainable from institutions in Hong Kong, except in rare instances where no local qualification is applicable. If an applicant for civil service posts holds qualifications obtained outside Hong Kong (non-local qualifications), his qualifications will have to be assessed to determine whether he meets the entry requirements of the post(s) he is applying for.

4. The Qualifications Section of the Civil Service Branch centrally co-ordinates the assessment of non-local academic qualifications for appointments to grades requiring general academic qualifications. For appointments to grades requiring a local professional qualification, non-local professional qualifications are scrutinised by the respective heads of the grades, having regard to advice from the relevant recognised professional bodies where necessary.

Assessment of Non-local Academic Qualifications

5. The Qualifications Section of the Civil Service Branch conducts assessment of non-local academic qualifications on a case-by-case basis on individual applicants for civil service posts, having regard to the standing of the awarding institutions, programme of study and advice from education and accreditation authorities. The benchmark is whether the non-local qualification(s) held by an applicant are comparable in standard to the local qualification(s) specified for entry to the civil service posts concerned.

6. All tertiary and secondary academic qualifications obtained outside Hong Kong are subject to qualifications assessment as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. In particular, we would like to emphasise that all qualifications obtained outside Hong Kong are subject to the same standard and criteria of assessment, irrespective of where they were obtained. It should also be noted that the assessment of qualifications by the Civil Service Branch is solely for the purpose of civil service appointments and does not imply any general recognition or academic accreditation by the government. The assessment is valid only at the time it is made, without prejudice to any subsequent changes which may arise in future.

7. The Qualifications Section has an information database, which is routinely updated, on institutions, qualifications and programmes of study outside Hong Kong. In cases where information regarding the institutions or qualifications concerned is not readily available, the Section will seek advice from local or international education and accreditation authorities as well as academic institutions. On the basis of such information and advice, the Qualifications Section will advise the recruiting departments whether the qualification(s) of the applicant can be accepted for appointment to the civil service post(s) concerned.

8. At present, the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation (HKCAA) is one of our major sources of information. Apart from the HKCAA, we also make use of information and advice from a wide variety of education and accreditation authorities, for examples, the Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in USA, and the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) under the British Council.

9. The assessment of non-local qualifications is overseen by a liaison group chaired by the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service and comprising representatives from the Education and Manpower Branch, HKCAA and selected departments.

The Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation

10. The Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation (HKCAA) is an independent statutory body set up in 1990. It is responsible for accrediting degree programmes offered by local non-university institutions, advising on the comparability of qualifications and academic standards, providing consultancy services to the Government, private employers, public bodies and members of the public, and carrying out activities related to academic accreditation. The HKCAA also conducts research into the maintenance and monitoring of academic standards around the world, and maintains international links with accrediting agencies through, for instance, the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education, of which the HKCAA is a founding member. Its work is supported by a secretariat of full-time staff with expertise and experience in quality assurance and higher education, and it has access to more than 1 000 education specialists from Hong Kong and other parts of the world as consultants. In support of its advisory functions, the HKCAA conducts research into the academic standards of non-local qualifications, including those from mainland China and Taiwan, and the quality assurance practices in distance learning throughout the world. Given its connections with accreditation authorities and international education specialists and consultants, and its comprehensive database of information about institutions and qualifications outside Hong Kong, the HKCAA is well placed to perform its advisory role.


11. The mechanism for qualifications assessment has enabled us to properly scrutinise qualifications obtained outside Hong Kong held by applicants for civil service posts. We shall continue to keep our qualifications assessment mechanism up-to-date with latest information from education and accreditation authorities.

Civil Service Branch
21 April 1997

Last Updated on 21 August 1998