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Study in Hong Kong

Hong Kong makes for an exciting destination for international students who wish to further their education. Hong Kong’s institutions enjoy a great reputation and many of them are ranked highly in the World University Rankings – some even ranking higher than European and North American institutions – showing the academic and research quality of Hong Kong’s institutions and establishing Hong Kong as an excellent choice of destination for international students.

It’s important to know that all qualifications and diplomas issued from recognised Hong Kong educational institutions are internationally accepted, so you can study abroad in Hong Kong and be sure that you can use your resulting qualification anywhere in the world.

Modern Hong Kong combines tradition and modernity to create exciting courses that provide a strong theoretical and practical education. Critical thinking and creativity are encouraged. In addition to this, many courses and programmes focus on practical skills needed for your future career.

Why Study in Hong Kong?

There are many reasons to choose Hong Kong as your destination for higher education and research. First of all is the quality of the education. Hong Kong institutions of higher education are well-known all around the world and rank highly in the World University Rankings. When it comes to regional ranking in Asia, Hong Kong has several institutions in the top 15. Hong Kong has also claimed the two top spots in the new QS Top 50 Under 50 ranking. This is very impressive, especially considering Hong Kong has to compete against larger countries such as Japan and China.

In addition to this, Hong Kong has 5 of the world’s Top 100 universities for mathematics. Some other fields are also ranked highly, such as accounting and finance, statistics and modern languages.

There are numerous opportunities for those who wish to study in Hong Kong to find a suitable educational institution ideal for their aspirations and goals. Hong Kong has eight government-funded universities as well as numerous specialist colleges. There are also self-funded universities that are open to international students. Universities in Hong Kong offer many different degree levels. You can choose between Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral programmes and degrees to attend, depending on your level of education.

The universities in Hong Kong offer numerous programmes in many different fields, from Education, Arts and Science, to Law, Journalism and Business Administration.

Traditionally, undergraduate courses in Hong Kong lasted for three years. This was changed in 2012, so undergraduate studies now take four years to complete. Bear this in mind when planning your studies if you are an undergraduate intending to study in Hong Kong, as this will have a direct impact on securing your finances and accommodation.

The main educational structure in Hong Kong was established during colonial rule and mirrors the education system in the UK. One of the reasons that Hong Kong is so relevant and competitive at present is the recent educational reform that took place in the early 2000’s. During this time, Hong Kong’s schools underwent major changes in curriculum, language instruction and methods of assessment. This was a period where many student-focused changes occurred, making Hong Kong’s education fully modernised. Above all, there was a shift from exam-centered studies towards whole-person development, with an emphasis on critical thinking. There now exists a great number of new subjects, modules, and courses, such as Moral and Civil Education, Intellectual Development, Physical and Aesthetic Development, Community Service and Career-Related Experience.

It is worth pointing out that the reform hasn’t eliminated examinations altogether though, testing is still considered one of the necessary components of academia in Hong Kong.

The new approaches to the education curriculum allows Hong Kong to better accommodate international trends and needs. Recent changes also make it easier for international students who wish to study in Hong Kong to be admitted and commence their studies.

The language of instruction for most courses taught in Hong Kong is English, so to gain admission to a lot of courses you will be expected to hold excellent English language skills.

Hong Kong employs many great professors and highly regarded experts in their respective fields, with Nobel laureates, renowned critics, famous authors and technology giants all playing a part in Hong Kong’s institutions.

The educational system in Hong Kong is broadly compatible with educational system in mainland China, which makes it easy for international students to join exchange programmes with universities in China.

About Hong Kong

Hong Kong (officially a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, the other being Macau) is situated on China’s southern coast. It’s estimated that there are about 7 million people in Hong Kong and while it belongs to China and the Chinese government has the last say, Hong Kong does display a great level of autonomy.

Hong Kong is an important economic and world business centre and although a Chinese majority forms the core of local culture, Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city. It has a significant foreign population, including thousands of international students.

Hong Kong has an excellent transportation system that will take you anywhere you wish to go within the city and beyond, which is just as well as there is plenty to explore. More than 70% of Hong Kong is covered by national parks, so you can travel outside the city to experience nature and more traditional lifestyles.

The top tourist attractions in Hong Kong include:

  • Avenue of Stars
  • The Peak
  • Ladies’ Market
  • Clock Tower
  • Hong Kong Disneyland
  • Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
  • Ocean Park Hong Kong
  • Temple Street Night Market
  • Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (and Golden Bauhinia Square)
  • The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery

You can find excellent street food in Hong Kong, famously offered by the once hugely prevalent Dai Pai Dongs. These are open food stalls that tend to have no fixed location, but offer interesting seafood and noodle dishes, amongst other things. Numbers have dwindled in recent years, though some remain which are very much worth hunting out.

Cost of Studying & Living in Hong Kong

Tuition fees vary between universities, so you should always check out your desired programme and university to inform yourself about specific tuition fees. Generally speaking though, fees vary between $75,000 and $120,000 Hong Kong Dollars per year (between $9,700 to $15,400 U.S. Dollars).

Hong Kong is no longer a cheap place to live. The cost of living can be on par with London or New York, however foreigners who wish to study in Hong Kong can use a variety of discounts to make their stay in Hong Kong more affordable. Certain things, such as transportation, telecommunications and healthcare do cost significantly less than in Europe or North America. Living in University-provided halls of residence and hostels is the most affordable option, costing between HK$5,000 (about US$650) to HK$20,200 (around US$2,600) per semester. As a comparison, you should expect to pay that much per month if you live off-campus.

You should also estimate about HK$30,000 – 60,000 (US$3,900 – 7,700) per year for additional costs, such as food, transportation, leisure, personal items and more. The exact cost will largely depend on your lifestyle, although you can get a more detailed picture on the costs of studying in Hong Kong at StudyCostCompare.

It’s important to note that your visa or entry permit doesn’t allow you to work full time. There is an exception when it comes to internships and part-time on-campus employment that is available to international students who study in Hong Kong. Also, there are certain summer jobs available to foreign students and eligible students are issued a “No Objection Letter” (NOL) detailing conditions of employment.

You may apply for numerous scholarships and grants to assist you in paying your studies and living expenses. Certain scholarships are reserved solely for international students who wish to study in Hong Kong. You may also apply for grants to cover a portion of your fees. Others scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to all talented students. There are funds provided by universities, companies, academic departments or individuals. There are even scholarships that will cover all of your costs, from tuition fees to housing and living expenses. These scholarships also cover all the additional university fees and even certain personal expenses.

Visas

All non-local students must obtain a student visa or entry permit in order to study in Hong Kong. Once you’ve been offered a place at a Hong Kong institution you need to secure a local sponsor to support your visa application. Universities will usually take care of this for international students.

You must submit an application form along with proof of identity, evidence of your academic qualifications and a financial statement. It’s also likely that the Immigration Department will request to know where you’ll live while staying in Hong Kong, so it’s always the best to arrange accommodation in advance.

You will have to renew your visa each year in order to continue your studies. You should do this 4 weeks before your visa expires at the very latest.

Language

English is one of the official languages of Hong Kong (the other being Cantonese Chinese) and is widely spoken. Most courses and programmes use English by way of instruction.

There are also many courses offered in Chinese, ideal for those who wish to perfect their Chinese language skills during their stay. Learning the Chinese language can help you to integrate better and make the most out of your stay, not to mention making you highly employable upon your graduation.

There are also institutions conducting certain courses in Putonghua language, intended for mainland students and others who are fluent in the language.

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Map of Hong Kong