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 TopUniversities.com.



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions