The gateway to an exotic career

Hong Kong has become a destination of choice for international students hoping to study in Asia

Well positioned in world university rankings, Hong Kong has an open-door policy towards international students. The Hong Kong government has invested HK$1 billion in a bursary fund, the interest to be used to fund scholarships for international students. Universities like Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Lingnan University, Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong compete at a world-class level.

Belgian Achill Van den Broek, 27, is about to enter the final year of his three-year undergraduate degree in Chinese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is majoring in Chinese politics and speaks basic Cantonese and Mandarin. “I was on my way back from Sydney to Europe from a working holiday when I decided to spend six months in Hong Kong,”

says Van den Broek. “People I met recommended Chinese U and I decided that if I wanted to study China, I would rather do it here. It’s a degree that’s only open to international students.” Van den Broek’s fellow intake includes Canadian, Dutch, Korean and some American-born Chinese students.

What is it that impresses Van den Broek the most? “Everything about Hong Kong is surprising. Coming from Europe it’s a bit of a culture shock, but if you come with an open mind you’ll soon adapt. On our campus we have trees, a lake and a waterfall. It’s a complete contrast to the bustling commercial district and harbour,” he says.

Founded in 1963, CUHK enjoys a spectacular location with panoramic views over Kolo Harbour and a mountain backdrop. The Chinese border is half an hour away by train, and half an hour in the opposite direction will bring you straight into the heart of Hong Kong itself. “We are the second oldest university in Hong Kong and we operate an exchange programme with over 200 universities all over the world,” says Grace Chow, director of admissions and financial aid. CUHK currently has around 3,800 international undergraduate and postgraduate students from over 40 countries.

A research-led university, CUHK is ranked 41st in the world and first in mainland China by the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings. The Australian Institute High Impact University List rates it number one in Hong Kong. Undergraduate fees are £7,950, but postgraduate research-based degrees are a lot lower at £3,340, and researchers are paid a monthly stipend to encourage excellence.

“Our bachelors degrees in quantitative finance, risk management and Chinese trade are particularly attractive to business and finance students, many of whom get to spend a year in China as part of their course,” says Chow.

CUHK operates a collegiate system, with students assigned to one of six colleges, providing a focus for social life and pastoral care. A leading financial capital, Hong Kong’s economy is booming and there is full employment. Many overseas students are aiming to stay on and work there in one of the many international banks and financialservices firms after they graduate. Some join Chinese companies on the mainland.

Working as an equity analyst for an investment bank, John Besant- Jones is studying for an MBA at Chinese U. “You’re not going to learn about China through postgraduate study in the West,” he says. “You’ve got to get yourself over here. It’s incredibly easy to get a student visa and you don’t need employer sponsorship to find work as a graduate. It took me 10 days to get my work visa, which is renewable every year.”

Positioning itself as the gateway to China, Hong Kong’s higher education institutions attract a world-class faculty, and students will receive an international education combining the best of Western practice with China’s intellectual tradition.

An agreement with mainland China guarantees the compatibility of Hong Kong and Chinese study programmes. This means that from 2012 all Hong Kong universities are moving from a three-year to a fouryear undergraduate degree. Strong academic links mean some universities allow foreign students to study for a year or two in Beijing or Shanghai through partnerships with Chinese universities.

Listed by THE rankings as number one in Asia, Hong Kong University is strong in finance, economics and global business, as well as medicine, law and actuarial science. Recent rankings in social sciences, geography and politics are expected to attract more international students. “We started admitting students from mainland China in 1999 and student numbers exploded since we opened up to the rest of the world in 2005,” says Professor John Spinks, director of undergraduate admissions and student exchange.

The undergraduate tuition fee of £9,300 a year may appear high in relation to current UK fees but is competitive when compared to the fees charged by US universities, while generous government subsidies bring the cost of accommodation down to an affordable level. Admissions criteria are high – HKU demands three A-levels at A-star, 40 out of 45 for the International Baccalaureate, and SAT2s from US candidates. There are nine international applicants for every place. Academically, HKU places emphasis on teaching quality and putting the students at the centre of learning. “We make them responsible for their own learning and also, of course, give them the freedom you would expect from a UK university,” says Prof Spinks. He adds: “There is also an Asian cultural perspective on learning and academic achievement, with high respect given to teachers.”

Altogether there are eight government-funded universities in Hong Kong. Between them, these institutions offer dozens of major areas of study and all use English as the medium of instruction for most of their courses. In addition, many offer crash courses in Chinese language so that foreign students can make the most of their stay.

“Hong Kong universities have led the way in Asia when it comes to attracting high-quality international students and staff, with the best universities taking nearly 20 per cent of their students from overseas.

With the fee rises at English universities, studying in Hong Kong will become an increasingly attractive option to UK students,” says Danny Byrne, editor of

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager / Graduate Trainee

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Key Sales Account Manager/Graduate Trainee i...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum