A guide for students

The Senate approved revised Academic Regulations (ARs) for three-year degrees at its June 2011 meeting. This revision of the Academic Regulations is intended to achieve three things:
To make the regulations easier to understand
To provide a more direct link to information about procedures
To prepare for the changes related to implementing a four-year degree

In addition the new regulations bring in a 4-point grading system, replacing the 12-point system. The Senate agreed that the implementation of new regulations, including the new grading system should lead to no disadvantage for students already registered before the academic year 2011-2012.

The following FAQs and answers provide you with further detail explanation of the key revisions in the ARs.

What changes have been made for students seeking approval for program enrollment, course registration, application for leave from study, etc? (AR (3.6), (4.2), (3.5), (3.7) and (5.10))
The new regulations are clearer about what approval is necessary at different points in students' academic progress. As in the past, most requests for changes in enrollment, registration, leave from study and so on should be directed to ARRO.

But each department will appoint a Major-program Coordinator in place of its Undergraduate Coordinator, and each minor program will appoint a Minor-program Coordinator to manage these programs and advise students.

Minor-program and Major-program Registration

Under the revised AR (3.6) and (4.2), registration for a minor or an additional major requires the approval of the Minor-program Coordinator and Major-program Coordinator respectively.

In case of questions, please consult relevant Academic Department/Division offices.

Leave from Study, Changes of Registration (e.g. major program transfer) and Course add/drop and withdrawal

The revised AR (3.5), (3.7) and (5.10) relating to the above academic aspects require students to seek approval of relevant Dean or Dean's designate.

For further enquiries, please consult relevant School/ Academic Department/Division offices or ARRO.

2. Have any changes been made in requirements for graduation?
All graduation requirements remain the same, except that a minimum requirement of 90 credits is now required for graduation in place of the old program-based requirement of between 100 and 105 credits. In practice this will not make a difference in graduation requirements.

To align with plans for the four-year degree, the former General Education requirements have already been amended to create a University Common Core requirement. Existing students will not be required to complete any additional credits to meet this requirement. For more information you may go to:

The English language requirements for existing students have not been changed. Students entering in September 2012 will complete a revised program in English language.

For details of curriculum requirements, please refer to In case of questions on program specific requirements, please consult your Major Department/Division offices.

3. Can I enroll in an Additional Major? (AR 4.2)
The new regulations explicitly allow for students to take additional majors. This replaces the existing arrangement for students to graduate with a dual-program designation. In practice this will not change the curriculum for students following more than one major, including SBM students, where a second major has always been possible.

Please consult your Major-program Coordinator for further information.

4. My program requires a study load of more than 18 credits for some terms. Do I need to seek permission to take this excess load? (AR 5.4)
No, in cases where all students in a program must take a study load greater than 18 credits, this will be automatically be allowed for in your course enrollment.

For enquiry on approval procedure, please contact ARRO, while for advice on your study load, please consult your School /Major Department /Division offices.

5. Why did the Senate adopt the 4-point grading system?
The University Senate approved the adoption of the internationally recognized 4-point grading system in place of HKUST's existing 12-point system with effect from May 2011 so that HKUST student transcripts will be easier for employers and graduate schools to understand.
6. What is the grade-point conversion under the 4-point system?
Course Grade
Numerical value under 4-Point System
7. What is the revised process for grade review? (AR (7.6))
The revised AR (7.6) sets out clearly a process for grade review. If students have valid grounds for a review, they may submit a request in writing to the head of the department responsible for the course. There is also an opportunity for an appeal to the Dean.

Please refer to details in AR (7.6) at

8. For undergraduate students' academic standing, why will we use the CGA calculation?
The Senate has approved using students' Cumulative Grade Average (CGA) to assess academic progress, rather than the Semester Grade Average (SGA) with effect from May 2011. The CGA includes all the courses students have completed and provides a much more stable and reliable view of how well students are doing academically and will help the University to support and help students in difficulty.
9. What are the guidelines for converting grade points for academic standing and award classifications under the 4-point System?
Category of Academic Regulations
4-Point System
Academic Probation
CGA < 1.5
Dean's List
TGA 3.7*
Academic Achievement Medal
Final CGA 3.9
First Class Honors
GGA 3.500 - 4.300
Second Class Honors Division I
GGA 2.850 - 3.499
Second Class Honors Division II
GGA 2.150 - 2.849
Third Class Honors
GGA 1.500 - 2.149
Note: Under the no disadvantage rule, for student entered before 2011-12, students obtain a TGA 3.675 can be considered for award in the Dean's List taking into account calculation of decimal-place increment.
10. How have the rules for calculating the GGA been changed? (AR 12.2)
Under the old regulations, students were allowed to exclude some course grades from the calculation of their GGA if these courses were not required for graduation and if their department approved. The new regulations allow this for all students, but limit the number of surplus courses to be excluded from the GGA to a total of 9 credits. This regulation provides for fair treatment for all students.

For actual calculation in your transcript, please contact ARRO; for academic advice on your study, please consult your Major Department/Division offices.

11. What do "no-disadvantage arrangements" mean? Under what circumstances will such arrangements apply?
When the Senate agreed to these changes, it was recognized that existing students might have concerns about the possible impact. Because of this, the general rule of no disadvantage will be adopted for all students who entered before September 2011. When awards are classified on graduation, both the new and old grade-point systems will be used and the most favorable calculation will be used to classifying awards. Also when students' CGAs fall below the required threshold, their SGA will also be calculated and the most favorable calculation will be used.

Calculation of award classification

In the conversion from 12-point to 4-point system, there may be a small number of cases where students are on the border between classifications and under the 12-point calculation would have a higher classification. For these students a calculation using both the 12-point and 4-point systems will be made and the most favorable calculation will be adopted.

To classify awards, GGAs not CGAs are used. In calculating a GGA, courses taken in the first year of study are half-weighted and some courses may be excluded. No change has been made in the way that GGAs are calculated.

  Under 4-point system:  
2.84 (Classification: Second Class Honors Division II)
  Under 12-point system:  
7.51 (Classification: Second Class Honors Division I)
rule applied -->Award classification is Second Class Honors Division I
  Assessing academic standing based on CGA or SGA
  Similarly, in cases of academic probation and dismissal, when the student's CGA fall below the required threshold, their SGA will also be calculated and the most favorable calculation (either CGA or SGA) will be used.
    Case 1  
    Assessment under CGA calculation:
    CGA 1.46 (Subject to academic probation)
    Assessment under SGA calculation:
    SGA 1.50 (NOT subject to academic probation)
    No-disadvantage rule applied --> NOT subject to academic probation
    Case 2  
    Assessment under CGA calculation:
    CGA 1.61 (NOT subject to academic probation)
    Assessment under SGA calculation:
    SGA 1.34 (Subject to academic probation)
    No-disadvantage rule applied --> NOT subject to academic probation
12. What happens to the course grades for courses taken before the 4-point system was implemented? Will these grades be converted?
The letter grades for courses are not affected by the new grade-point scale, but existing course letter grades will be converted to calculate 4-point grade averages for each Term. However for terms completed before Spring 2011 the transcript will show CGAs, TGAs and SGAs for both the 12-point and the 4-point system. From Spring 2010-11 onwards transcripts will show only 4-point grade averages. 12-point grade averages will be calculated separately if necessary to ensure no disadvantage for students.
13. In my transcript, why isn't the SGA shown in and after Spring 2010-11?
From Spring 2010-11 onwards, the University will convert to a four-term model, with two Regular Terms (Fall and Spring) and two non-regular Terms (Winter and Summer). A Term Grade Average (TGA) and a Cumulative Grade Average (CGA) will be calculated at the end of all four Terms. After Spring 2011, no SGA will be calculated or shown on the transcript. For existing students the SGA will be calculated separately, if necessary to ensure no disadvantage.

For actual calculation in your transcript, please contact ARRO.

14. What are CGA and TGA?
Cumulative Grade Average (CGA): For each term a CGA is calculated for all the courses earning grade points completed since first registration as an undergraduate student up to that point, as follows:
  Where Cj is the credit and Gj is the grade point earned in the jth course since first registration.

Courses with grades of Incomplete, Audit, Pass, Credit, Distinction or Permitted to Proceed do not count toward grade point averages.

Term Grade Average (TGA): For each term a TGA is calculated across all courses taken in that term, as follows:


Where Ci is the course credits and Gi is the grade point earned in the ith course in the Term.

15. What is the new process for academic dismissal? (AR 10.0)
Under the old regulations, students were informed of academic dismissal and were able to appeal to the Office of the Provost. Under the new regulations, students are given an opportunity for review by their School and will be asked by the School to provide any additional information about their situation that would explain their poor performance. Schools will then make a recommendation to the Provost.
16. Currently upon completion of all the program requirements, students will graduate from their programs and cannot register in additional courses. Under the revised AR, is it possible for us to extend our study in certain courses after we have completed all program requirements? (AR (3.4))
Yes, under the revised AR (3.4), subject to approval by the relevant Dean or Deans' designate, students who have completed the program requirements for graduation may register as Associate Students. The Associate Student status will facilitate graduates to register in additional courses.
For consultation, please contact your School offices.
Office of the Provost
June 2011