Students taking foreign-language assessments for Hong Kong’s university entrance exams will have to complete papers provided by official organisations of the relevant countries under a new arrangement beginning in 2025.
The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority on Tuesday said tests for Urdu would resume in 2026 after being suspended the year before. The authority last year said both Hindi and Urdu would be dropped from the 2025 examinations.
The authority said the changes were needed as the city’s previous provider of papers and results for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) would stop providing them. All foreign languages under the DSE in 2025 will be affected, which includes French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Hindi and Urdu.
Cambridge Assessment International Education had said it planned to stop the service after an internal review.
The suspension of the Urdu paper in 2025 would affect about dozens candidates who were currently in Form Five. Only about 10 students take the Hindi tests every year. No suitable exam had been identified so far to resume the subject beyond the suspension date, according to the authority in 2022.
But a new assessment for Korean would be added from 2025.
Candidates for the language tests will be required to sit official papers from stipulated bodies, which are the Alliance Francaise de Hong Kong for French, Goethe-Institut Hong Kong for German, Japan Foundation for Japanese, National Institute for International Education in South Korea for Korean, and Instituto Cervantes in Shanghai for Spanish.
The authority said Urdu would be included again in the DSE exams from 2026 onwards, as it had recently signed an agreement with the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The test is part of the national curriculum of Pakistan and consists of two papers. It would be benchmarked against the Higher Secondary School Certificate, which was the qualification for completing the final two high-school grades in Pakistan, the authority said.
Candidates for all the language tests should enrol directly with the organisations within the two years preceding their DSE exams. They also need to sign up locally for the language subject during the DSE registration.
Results reaching the required proficiency level will be included in those announced for the DSE.
About 500 students sat the six DSE foreign-language assessments in 2022, with 397 taking the Japanese paper.
Yuen Kwok-ming, former principal of Caritas Tuen Mun Marden Foundation Secondary School, said his institution had about 10 students sitting the Urdu test each year and the absence of the subject in 2025 might affect the chances of those pupils seeking admission to local universities.
According to the authority, 38 students sat the Urdu test in 2022. Yuen said some of the students at his school had scored an A in the subject in the past.
“We are glad that Urdu could be provided in 2026 again, and we had no choice but to ask the current Form Five students to study other electives as a replacement,” he said, noting most of them would switch to career-oriented subjects instead of ones for science.
“As their mathematics performance is not very good, they prefer taking subjects such as catering and tourism,” he said.
Secretary general of the authority Wei Xiangdong said it was grateful for the help from the Pakistani consulate, which had helped organise the new examination arrangements.
“The new examinations not only address the demand of schools and students concerned, but also cater to the different learning progress and needs of students,” he said.