Hong Kong offers a great deal of opportunity for students ready to embark on tertiary education. Aside from the territory's dozen or so universities, there are also specialist schools, including the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and further education colleges, such as Caritas Institute of Higher Education.
Today we will be looking at universities specifically, many of which have a world-class reputation. The Times Higher Education supplement lists the University of Hong Kong as 34th globally, although it is no longer famously "First in Asia," having recently lost out to the University of Tokyo.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology also appears at number 62, and the Chinese University comes in at position 151. A full list can be viewed at www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/ world-university-rankings/ 2011-2012/top-400.html.
However, such rankings are highly subjective and change annually, usually based on what outside funding and innovative research has been published in association with a particular university in any given year. However, many local universities continue to maintain an excellent reputation.
A good place to start if you have decided that Hong Kong is the place for you is the Study HK website, which can be found at studyinhongkong.edu.hk/ eng/01uinhk.jsp.
It provides some basic information about why a student should consider remaining in Hong Kong for higher education, as well as practical advice on dealing with issues such as the cost of courses and application.
It is also possible to conduct a course and institution search via the website, although only universities and related institutes are included, not further education colleges or specialist schools.
As with Canada and a large number of Australian universities, colleges in Hong Kong do not use a centralized application system, so you must apply to each institution, and pay for that application, separately.
Candidates should also be aware that application criteria can be quite high. Take, for example, a bachelor of social work three-year degree course at the University of Hong Kong.
Whilst the university might list a minimum entrance requirement of, for example, 36 IB points, or HKDSE equivalent, candidates will undoubtedly be up against those with far higher grades.
Admissions departments are likely to choose the best candidates, not just those who meet the minimum requirements, so expect some pretty stiff competition and don't expect to be admitted simply because you meet the requirements.
However, the application process is largely fair. Many local students are concerned about competition created by the number of international students applying, particularly those from the mainland. However, this is a fallacy as colleges and their individual departments can only accept a certain number of international and local students.
Otherwise, there would be nothing to stop universities accepting a higher percentage of international students, simply to charge higher fees.
Next week we will be considering the application process in Hong Kong, including the difference between JUPAS, non-JUPAS and international applications.
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