Direct Subsidy Scheme
The Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) is instituted by the Education Bureau of Hong Kong as a means to enhance the quality of private school
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

s in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 at the primary
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 and secondary
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 levels. The Hong Kong government has been encouraging non-government secondary schools which have attained a sufficiently high educational standard to join the DSS by providing subsidies in order to enhance the quality of private school education since the 1991-92 school year. In the 2000-01 school year, the DSS is extended to primary schools. In the 2001-02 school year, the terms of the DSS were significantly improved to attract more schools to join the scheme. Under the scheme, schools are free to decide on their curriculum, fees and entrance requirements.


Non-government schools must satisfy stipulated standards to be eligible to join the scheme. The standards include requirements regarding the mode of operation (unisessional), class size, teacher’s qualification and facilities etc. For example, schools need a permanent school premises, more than 70 per cent of teachers had to be degree-holders, and they had to have sufficient facilities such as computer, music and language labs.


DSS schools are free to design their own curriculum. They are not subject to the guidelines issued by the Education Department. Although DSS schools are required to offer principally a curriculum targeting local students and prepare its students to sit for local examinations, certain DSS schools are currently offering or are set to offer the International Baccalaureate Programme.


DSS schools are generally free to select their own students, subject to special arrangements with the government in case of shortage of places in government/aided schools. However, DSS schools are not allowed to select their students by conducting written entrance tests.


DSS schools are free to charge school fees. In the 2009-10 school year, their schools fees range from $3,000 to $110,000 per year.

A DSS school will receive full recurrent subsidy until its fee level reaches two and a third of the average unit cost of an aided school place. Beyond this level, no recurrent subsidy is available. The average unit cost of an aided school place is calculated based on a two-age based system in order to address the needs of schools with longer development background. In short, a higher level of subsidy would be available to DSS schools that have been operating for 16 years or above. The level of recurrent subsidy received by a DSS school is hence dependant on the number of students enrolled in that particular school.

Also, to help ex-aided DSS schools adapt to new financing methods, ex-aided DSS schools that receive less recurrent subsidy after joining the DSS will continue to receive recurrent subsidy as if they were aided schools for 5 years.

In order to cater for students from less well-off families, DSS schools are required to set aside at least 10% of their income for fee / scholarship schemes. In addition, for every dollar charged over two third of the average unit cost of an aided school place, the school should set aside 50 cents for scholarship / financial assistance schemes.


DSS schools are required by the government to issue annual prospectuses, which must contain stipulated classes of information such as vision, mission and objectives of the school, class structure, curriculum, achievements in public exams, extra curricula activities, school fees etc. DSS schools are free to spend their grants for educational purposes, subject to inspection of their audited accounts. Ex-aided DSS schools will be given an option to revert to aided status only if the government changes the formula for calculating DSS subsidy such that the school financial viability is adversely affected.


Pegasus Philip Wong Kin Hang Christian Primary School, a DSS school, sparked controversy when the sponsoring body pulled out and irregularities in its accounts were revealed. The school management committee agreed to pay an advance payment of two to three weeks to Pegasus Social Service Christian Organization, the sponsoring body, which is also the school's service provider and chaired by school supervisor Carmen Leung Suk-ching. The government's monitoring mechanism over Direct Subsidy Scheme schools has therefore been criticized by legislators.

Some DSS schools have also come under criticism for raising school fees despite the economic downturn.

The Scheme has also been criticized as benefiting the private education sector and the well-off students at the expense of the public sector.

Notable DSS schools

  • Diocesan Boys' School
    Diocesan Boys' School
    Diocesan Boys' School is a boys' school located at 131 Argyle Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong. It was founded in 1869, making it one of the oldest secondary schools in Hong Kong....

  • Diocesan Girls' School
    Diocesan Girls' School
    Diocesan Girls' School, founded in 1860, is one of the oldest Anglican girls' schools in Hong Kong. DGS is located at 1 Jordan Road in Kowloon, Hong Kong. It is administered under the Grant Code and uses English as the medium of instruction. It has always been ranked as the top secondary school in...

  • St. Paul's Convent School
    St. Paul's Convent School
    St Paul's Convent SchoolSchool BadgeHeadmistressesSr. Joanna Marie Cheung Sr. Margaret Wong School typePrivate, Girls' School, DSSReligious affiliationCatholicFounded1854Location...

  • St. Paul's Co-educational College
    St. Paul's Co-educational College
    St. Paul's Co-educational College , is located at 33 MacDonnell Road, Mid-levels, Hong Kong....

  • St. Paul's College
    St. Paul's College, Hong Kong
    St. Paul's College is an Anglican day school for boys in Mid Levels, Hong Kong and is located adjacent to University of Hong Kong. Established in 1851, it is the oldest secondary school in Hong Kong that is still in operation...

  • Ying Wa College
    Ying Wa College
    Ying Wa College , formerly known as Anglo-Chinese College, abbreviated YWC), is the world's first Anglo-Chinese school. It has thrived on the vision of its founding fathers and the good work of generations of devoted principals and teachers, whose educational approach is particularly apt for Hong...

  • Good Hope School
    Good Hope School
    Good Hope School is a girls' school in Hong Kong with primary and secondary sections, founded in 1954. It is conducted by Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception...

The full list can be found here.

External links

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