Special Report – Other ideas

Although the number of students who finish secondary school is decreasing, the government wants to significantly increase students enrolled in higher education by 2025. Or precisely because of that.

MB March 2021 Special Report | 40 years of (modern) tertiary education


2020 did not end without the Higher Education Bureau disclosing the details of the Long-Term Plan for Tertiary Education (2021-2030).

Among the several objectives announced, the idea of ​​reaching 50,000 students by 2025 stands out.

If we take into account that around 36,000 people are currently studying in the 10 higher education institutions, reaching 50,000 would mean an increase of 41 per cent compared to the current figures.

Although more local students are attending tertiary education outside Macau than locally, the Higher Education Bureau’s priority is to recruit more young people from abroad.

The objective is even more ambitious if it is added that the number of students who finish local secondary education has been decreasing, which “will have a negative impact on the future recruitment of institutions.” In the next 10 years, the number of secondary school students will vary between 3,900 and 5,000. ”So the alternative is really to attract university students from Southeast Asia “or even from Europe,” as Chan Kun Hong, deputy director of the Bureau stated. “We will try to achieve this goal of 50,000, we will try to recruit more students abroad. We will follow that direction to reach a more international level.”

Another objective set out by the Plan is the creation of a guiding platform for academic and scientific research.


Two courses (Business and Management and Tourism and Entertainment) have, together, 14,389 students, which means almost 40 per cent of the total.

In this chapter, the Plan defines what it calls “privileged courses”, highlighting tourism, bilingualism in Chinese and Portuguese “and other privileged courses” – without, however, saying which ones, which has already motivated criticism in the press, namely in the Portuguese language, accusing the plan of being vague.

If we analyse the numbers provided in the table on this page, we see that just two courses (Business and Management and Tourism and Entertainment) have, together, 14,389 students, which means almost 40 per cent of the total. The translation courses have the preference of less than 800 students.

The Higher Education Bureau promises to pay attention to scientific and academic research, “in order to combine the needs of society with economic development, to develop academic and scientific research advantages, to strengthen coordination between the academic sector and the socio-economic, industrial and commercial, optimize the investment mechanism and the efficiency of higher education, improve the environment for career development and the higher education market ”.

The document that we have been quoting also refers to the need to improve the ratio of teachers per student, which is currently at 1/20, close to what is happening in Taiwan (1/21) but far from the average of OECD countries, which is 1/16. Hong Kong has a much more satisfactory ratio (1/14) and even in China it is more balanced (1/18). It is therefore “necessary to continuously improve the ratio teacher / student at Macao higher education institutions,” the document reads.

 Area of studies (2019/2020) Number  of students
Business and Management   8,663
Tourism and Entertainment  5,726
Law 2,275
Languages and Literature 2,228
Design and Arts 2,113
Journalism and Communication 1,646
Economics 1,062
Software and applications 1,011
Nursing and Health 920
10 Teacher Learning 893
11 Pharmacy 813
12 Public Administration 803
13 Translation 764
14 Engineering 731
15 Education Science 651
16 Sociology and Culture Research 604
17 Psychology 595
18 Social Services 572
19 Gaming Management 527
36 Transportation Services  7

Source: Higher Education Bureau