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The New Academic Structure (NAS) has been implemented since September 2009. The NAS provides every student with the opportunity to take part in a six-year secondary course. With the implementation of the NAS, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) administered the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) in 2012 to replace the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE).

To secure multiple pathways on both further studies and employment for candidates, the HKEAA has been working closely with university admission offices, higher education institutions, employers and professional bodies around the world to promote recognition of HKEAA qualifications.

The HKDSE qualifications have enjoyed wide recognition. The HKDSE not only provides an important credential for candidates to further their studies locally or to embark on a career, but they can also apply directly to non-local universities or institutions with their HKDSE results. Currently, over 130 Mainland higher education institutions and around 130 Taiwan higher education institutions have admitted Hong Kong students on the basis of their HKDSE results. Furthermore, more than 600 non-local higher education institutions have accepted the HKDSE qualifications for admission to their undergraduate programmes. They represent institutions not only from the popular English-speaking regions such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States, but also over 300 German public universities.

Although HKEAA examinations have been widely accepted, some universities have set particular criteria for admission of overseas students. In cases where candidates wish to further their studies abroad, they may be required to take certain unified examinations conducted by the examination authorities of that particular country as one of the basic requirements. These include, for example, the SAT for the United States.