The Public Opinion Programme (POP) was established in June 1991 to collect and study public opinion on topics which could be of interest to academics, journalists, policy-makers, and the general public. POP was at first under the Social Sciences Research Centre, a unit under the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong, and was transferred to the Journalism and Media Studies Centre in the University of Hong Kong in May 2000. In January 2002, POP was transferred back to the Faculty of Social Sciences in the University of Hong Kong. POP provides quality survey services to a wide range of public and private organizations, provided that they allow the POP Team to design and conduct the research independently, and to bear the final responsibilities.
In May 2008, POP was commissioned, for the eighth time, by Media Education Info-tech Co. Ltd. (which owns 「Education 18.com」) to repeat the annual survey on the public's perceptions of the local institutions of higher education. The objective of this survey was basically the same as that of the previous years, i.e. to study the general public's perception of the eight institutions of higher education funded through University Grants Committee (UGC), with the inclusion of Hong Kong Shue Yan University upon the client's advice. According to our records, the very first study of this subject was designed and conducted in 2000 by the client using a different methodology. For this reason, any direct comparison between the results obtained from the first and subsequent surveys is not recommended, while other comparison of results should also be made with great caution.
The questionnaires used in this and the previous years' surveys except that of 2000 were designed independently by the POP Team after consulting the client. Fieldwork, data analysis and interpretation were also carried out independently by the POP Team. Knowing that the results of this survey might be controversial, POP proceeded to design and conduct the survey anyway, because we take it to be our responsibility to engage in any opinion survey which requires our professional support. POP is fully responsible for all the opinion survey results released, we welcome any discussion on the fairness of the results.
This year's telephone survey was conducted during the period of 26 June to 4 July 2008. A total of 1,213 Hong Kong Cantonese-speaking residents of age 18 or above were successfully interviewed. The overall response rate was 65.5% and the standard error due to sampling was no more than 1.4 percentage points. That means at 95% confidence level, the sampling error of percentage figures was less than plus/minus 2.9 percentage points. However, some questions were only applicable to employers in the sample. Their valid sub-samples were much smaller, and the sampling errors for these questions became much bigger.