Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeIssues137Special FeatureQualitative Inquiry into the Mean...

Special Feature

Qualitative Inquiry into the Meanings of Higher Education:Implications for Developments in Education and Social Integration in Hong Kong in the Post-Covid-19 Period

Beatrice Oi-yeung Lam and Hei-hang Hayes Tang
p. 21-31

Abstract

The pursuit of equitable education is key to a government’s regulation and allocation of life-chances, which enables social integration. Yet, evidence of the diminishing returns of degrees and of the “skills mismatch” between higher education training and labour market requirements casts doubts on the role of higher educational institutions in facilitating social mobility. This paper draws upon the findings of 40 qualitative interviews with young people conducted in 2018 in Hong Kong to shed light on the micro-level processes in which higher education training is translated into graduate employment outcomes. Findings comparing two sets of higher education graduates’ interview narratives are presented. Assumptions of the logic of human capital theory are questioned from the “positional” and the “processual” perspectives on graduate employability. The discussion unpacks the meanings of “skills mismatch” and “graduate employability,” and foregrounds the assumptions of the differential values assigned to skills and knowledges of different kinds in the local higher education system. With the insights drawn, this paper concludes with a reflection on the relevance of higher education to our understanding of social mobility and social integration in post-Covid-19 Hong Kong.

Top of page

Editor’s notes

Manuscript received on 8 May 2024. Accepted on 25 June 2024.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on June 2025.

Outline

Introduction
Background
Theoretical perspectives on graduate employability
Methodology
Findings and discussion
Experience of study-to-work transition
Construction of relevant skills in the workplace
Tensions about “valuable” skills, “relevant” degrees, and “employability”
Conclusion and implications
Implications
Universities of applied sciences (UASs)
Internationalisation of higher education and national integration
Final remarks

First lines

Introduction

This paper draws upon the findings of 40 qualitative interviews with young people conducted in 2018 in Hong Kong to shed light on the micro-level processes in which higher education training is translated into employment outcomes. The paper will first introduce the background against which the discussion in the paper is set before outlining the theoretical framework and methodology of the study. Findings comparing two set of higher education graduates’ interview narratives are presented to unpack the meanings of “skills mismatch” and “graduate employability” and to foreground the assumptions of the differential values of various skills and knowledge in the local higher education system. With the insights drawn, this paper will conclude with a reflection on the relevance of higher education to our understanding of social mobility and social integration in post-Covid-19 Hong Kong.

Background

Education in Hong Kong used to serve the purpose of social selection of elites who ...

Top of page

References

Bibliographical reference

Beatrice Oi-yeung Lam and Hei-hang Hayes Tang, Qualitative Inquiry into the Meanings of Higher Education:Implications for Developments in Education and Social Integration in Hong Kong in the Post-Covid-19 Period”China Perspectives, 137 | 2024, 21-31.

Electronic reference

Beatrice Oi-yeung Lam and Hei-hang Hayes Tang, Qualitative Inquiry into the Meanings of Higher Education:Implications for Developments in Education and Social Integration in Hong Kong in the Post-Covid-19 Period”China Perspectives [Online], 137 | 2024, Online since 01 June 2025, connection on 20 July 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/16990; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/11y7o

Top of page

About the authors

Beatrice Oi-yeung Lam

Beatrice Oi-yeung Lam is Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Hong Kong Metropolitan University, No. 30 Good Shepherd Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong (oylam@hkmu.edu.hk).

Hei-hang Hayes Tang

Hei-hang Hayes Tang is Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership, at the Education University of Hong Kong, No. 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong (hhhtang@eduhk.hk).

Top of page

Copyright

The text and other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

Top of page
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search