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Why Study in Hong Kong?

Why Study in Hong Kong? main image

Hong Kong's goal of becoming an international higher education hub certainly looks realistic, thanks to its high-performing universities, world-class research, and attractive lifestyle.

The home of both the highest-ranked Asian university in the QS World University Rankings (Hong Kong University at 23) and the number one university in the 2012 QS University Rankings: Asia (the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Hong Kong is truly an higher educational powerhouse.

The quality by no means ends with this illustrious pair either. Indeed, Hong Kong boasts no fewer than six universities in the top 300 of the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings, four of which are in the top 100. Not too shabby for a city state of seven million people.

“[This performance in the rankings]is a clear sign of our strength in higher education,” reflects Judy Tsui, Vice President of Internationalization and Executive Education at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (ranked 159), adding that, “Research in Hong Kong has achieved phenomenal growth over the last two decades, solving global problems.”

A confirmation of this can be found in INSEAD’s Global Innovation Index (which measures countries’ research and innovation capabilities), in which Hong Kong ranks 8th out of 141 countries.

Examples of groundbreaking research undertaken in Hong Kong include the development of BCT-100, a drug to treat liver cancer at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and huge leaps made in quantum computing at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (ranked 40).

Additionally, the University of Hong Kong is a founding member of Univeritas 21, an international consortium of leading research universities dedicated to tackling issues of global importance.

An education hub

“The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is determined to make Hong Kong a regional education hub,” states Tsui, adding that many measures have been taken to this end.

“For instance, restrictions of entry visas have been relaxed in recent years, and permission has been given to non-local graduates to stay in Hong Kong for employment. Graduates can stay for one year to find a job. There is no quota for recruitment of international graduate students, especially PhD students.”

These policies are clearly paying dividends. Statistics gathered for the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings reveal that nearly 30% of the total student body at the six ranking Hong Kong universities was comprised of international students.

More specifically in reference to graduate-level students, Hong Kong University Grants Commission (UGC) statistics show that 4,854 international students were studying UGC-funded programs in Hong Kong in the 2011/12 academic year. The vast majority of these students were studying research rather than taught programs, again pointing to the country’s research strengths.

A major factor in Hong Kong’s success in attracting international students is the proportion of courses taught in English, still the world’s lingua franca. But studying in Hong Kong will also give you a good chance to become acquainted with Chinese languages (Cantonese predominates in Hong Kong, but there is also plenty of scope to familiarize yourself with Mandarin) – certainly an acquaintance which will be more and more sought after in years to come, in both the East and West.

Funding and costs

Of course, one of the main things on the mind of potential research students will be the issue of funding. This, states Tsui, can be generous: “For graduates with evidence of academic excellence, research ability, good communication, interpersonal and leadership abilities who wish to apply for full-time PhD study at PolyU, there is the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme offered by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong. Each awardee obtains $20,000 per month for three years.

“Apart from the monthly stipend of HK$20,000 (US$2,564) and conference travel allowance of HK$10,000 (US$1,282) per year for awardees for a maximum period of three years,” she adds, “the University will also provide each PhD Fellow with a 3-year tuition scholarship totaling US$112,450.”

A range of scholarships are available specifically for overseas students, allocated either through the universities themselves or through external funding bodies – it is worth researching your options in this regard.

Tuition varies from course to course, and institution to institution, but you can generally expect to pay between HK$75,000 and HK$120,000 (roughly US$9,700 to $15,400). Living in Hong Kong, as you might expect from a major metropolis, is not cheap, but like anywhere else in the world you can make it work with a bit of local knowledge.

And let's not forget, the costs of graduate study should always be balanced against potential future earnings and improved career prospects. Professor Gregory B Raupp, Dean of Graduate Studies at City University of Hong Kong, states that employment opportunities are very good in Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong is an international financial centre in which many multinational financial institutions have set up operations. It is also the premier trading hub between mainland China and the rest of the world. There are tremendous career opportunities in Hong Kong."

East meets West

One of the major draws of Hong Kong, aside from its strength in higher education, is the heady mixture of Eastern and Western influences – the latter stemming from the years it spend as a British territory. Next door to the towering skyscrapers which symbolize the city, you’ll find no shortage ancient Chinese architecture and colonial-era fortifications.

This also translates to the city’s cultural life, which consists of a rich mix of Asian and Western influences – you can find traditional Chinese delicacies next door to a branch of Starbucks.

So if you’re looking to get a taste of the East in the dawn of what is being called the ‘Asian Century’ by some, without completely abandoning home comforts, or to get a taste of the West without leaving Asia, then perhaps Hong Kong could be the study abroad destination for you!

QS Staff Writer's profile image
Written by QS Staff Writer

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