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Hong Kong, Asian biggest education hub? The outcome.


According to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority statistics, released in summer 2013, there has been a 7% increase in the number of Hong Kong secondary school exam takers receiving the minimum required scores to compete for 15,000 public-funded first-year university degree places.


In all, of 82,283 students who took the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) exam this year, 28,418 obtained the minimum score, which means that “more than 13,000 students will have to pay more for full-fee private courses, opt for sub-degree programmes or look elsewhere.”


The main question now is “Where, if they choose to study elsewhere, will those 13,000 students go?” And more precisely, what overseas countries do post-graduate Asian students choose as their study destination?”


The answer to this question is of immense importance to the global international education marketplace due to a number of reasons. First of all, Asian countries represent a huge proportion of the potentially mobile global student population. Secondly, Asian countries – especially China and India – have become crucial to the income of many top Western study abroad destination countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. Moreover, a number of destinations within the region – notably Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore – have been investing heavily in recent years in growing the capacity and quality of their post-secondary institutions in an effort to become regional (and perhaps global) education hubs.


So those 13,000 students have quite a lot of study options which are much closer to their homes than Europe or North America. These destinations may also turn out more affordable and more linked to regional job opportunities.


According to recent research, Hong Kong is becoming the regional education hub despite the recent rise in tuition for international students. A 2012 NAFSA publication entitled “Asia’s Burgeoning Higher Education Hubs” notes that Hong Kong has doubled quotas for foreign students at publicly funded institutions from 10% to 20% since 2008.


Moreover, Hong Kong has eased its work and immigration policies so that now, international students can work part-time while studying, as well as stay in Hong Kong for permanent jobs following their graduation, and apply for permanent residency after seven years.


The latest QS Asian University Rankings found that fully 37.7% of the student population at the University of Hong Kong is international students. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), also in 2013’s top 50 according to QS, boasts a 37.4% international proportion of its student population.


Prof Christopher Chao, associate dean of research and graduate studies at HKUST said to QS: “We have witnessed a very sudden rise of the number of international students to our MSc programmes in engineering at HKUST just this current year alone. In the fall of 2013/14, we are going to have more than 70 new international students from over 20 countries.”


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