Message from Professor Ian Holliday, Vice-President & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning)

Dear students

I’m writing to update you on a few issues.

Assessment choices

As you know, we’re offering all UG and TPG students three assessment choices for S1 courses: letter grade, pass/fail, late drop. Assessment choices can be submitted through SIS from 09:00 on Monday September 28 to 23:59 on Saturday October 10 (https://sweb.hku.hk/student/servlet/MyChoice/Status). This deadline is final, and no modifications will be permitted once it has passed. I’d like again to advise all students to think very carefully when opting for pass/fail grading. Courses that are simply passed will be recorded as P on the transcript, with no impact on the GPA calculation. For UG students in particular, this could have important knock-on effects. Internally, we rely on SGPA data for elective opportunities, such as academic exchange and other funded programmes. Externally, employers and universities around the world examine transcripts in some detail when taking decisions about jobs and postgraduate study. Students without solid GPA data may therefore place themselves at a significant disadvantage. Please consult your teachers, your academic advisers, the Academic Advising Office (https://aao.hku.hk/impact-pf/), your family and your friends before submitting your assessment choices. Please also note the points below about honours classification.

Honours classification for UG programmes

For most UG programmes, HKU has an honours classification system informed by the GPA system. Students graduating from programmes employing this system may be awarded first-class, second-class (upper or lower) and third-class honours. They may also graduate with a pass degree. To calculate a student’s GPA, we make reference only to credits accumulated through study at HKU. In turn, to award honours to a student we normally employ a ‘50% rule’, which mandates that at least half of the credits of a degree curriculum should be letter-graded. This means that a student taking a programme requiring 240 credits for graduation will normally be required to have at least 120 letter-graded credits. A student with fewer than half the total credits letter-graded will normally be awarded a pass degree with no honours classification. This reinforces the need for students to think extremely carefully before opting for pass/fail grading, especially if they are in special situations such as senior-year entry.

Award classification for TPG programmes

For most TPG programmes, HKU has an award classification system informed by the GPA system. To calculate a student’s GPA, we make reference to credits accumulated through study at HKU. In turn, to make an award of distinction at graduation we normally employ a ‘50% rule’, which mandates that at least half of the credits of a degree curriculum should be letter-graded. This means that a student taking a programme requiring 60 credits for graduation will normally be required to have at least 30 letter-graded credits (unless there are courses which are not letter-graded). This reinforces the need for students to think extremely carefully before opting for pass/fail grading.

SETL/SFTL

Following extensive consultation and piloting in the Common Core, we’ve reformed our Student Evaluation of Teaching and Learning instrument. It’s now called Student Feedback on Teaching and Learning, reflecting the fact that what teachers receive from students is not formal evaluation, but rather feedback. We’ve also simplified the instrument as much as possible. SFTL will be used for all course and teacher feedback in 2020-21. The new SFTL form can be viewed at https://tl.hku.hk/tl/student-feedback-on-teaching-and-learning-sftl/.

We’re looking forward to seeing some of you on campus once f2f teaching partially resumes on Tuesday. Please do drop me a line with queries – ian.holliday@hku.hk.

Best wishes, Ian

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)
The University of Hong Kong