Study in Hong Kong

Want to study in one of the most advanced places on Earth? Hong Kong, an ultramodern place with numerous skyscrapers and plush shopping malls, is fast coming up as an educational hub. From an overseas student point of view, learn here everything about pursuing higher education in this Special Administrative Region of China, including visa requirements, living costs and the city in general.

Hong Kong - a regional hub for higher education


For anyone seeking a world-class education, Hong Kong is definitely one of those places, where one can very easily look forward to study. With four of its top universities in the global top 50 and another two in the top 300, it is surely a place to head to, in case your aim is to study at a top university in one of the most modern places in the world. Even though it is a specially administered region of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong is still very much an autonomous region. Both, in terms of politics and economics, it has guaranteed freedom to pursue policies that lead to economic prosperity. A bustling economy has allowed Hong Kong to come up in various fields including education. It has deep aspirations of becoming an educational hub for the entire region as well as for the whole world. Already it is a hub for business, trade, finance, commerce and logistics. It is no wonder that the city aims to become an educational hub too. For students coming from India and other English speaking countries, it is all the more easy to take up a higher education program in one of its universities. Along with Chinese, English is the official language and most of the postgraduate courses are in English. Therefore, those familiar with English do not have to worry with respect to the medium of study or instructions.

Hong Kong is also a melting point of diverse ethnicities and nationalities. It is a mix of both Eastern and Western cultures. Here is a place, where traditions meet modern living and outlook. Here you will find traditional Chinese architectural wonders existing side-by-side modern skyscrapers. The city is fast paced, outward looking and at the same time very easy to integrate because of its cosmopolitan and multicultural identity. One will see here people from all parts of the world, including Indians. A city with the highest density of skyscrapers, it has also the highest concentration of the top ranked universities in the world. As a result, Hong Kong is considered among the top 15 cities in the world for higher education. The fact that four of the world's top 50 universities are in Hong Kong, itself speaks the volume of development that has taken in the field of education in Hong Kong. The high level of prosperity of the city has led its educational institutions to make the best use of technology and in adopting international standards in education planning and set up. Academic freedom ranks very high and you have the privilege to learn from various angles and perspectives. The highly internationalized campuses of its universities help broaden your outlook about the real world and the society in general.

Studying at a top university in Hong Kong provides you with an amazing experience. Here you see the East meeting the West. Even without going to China, you get to experience the culture and language of the Chinese people, who form the majority of the population in the city. You get the opportunity to pick up the mandarin language, a very good knowledge investment, considering the fact that in coming days China will be the leading country in terms of business, industries and almost every other economic activity. To make its ambitions, of becoming an educational hub come true, Hong Kong is seeking foreign students to come and experience the city. It has put in place a number of measures that will make it easy for the foreign students to come to Hong Kong and study here. To help the students with their funding, the universities here allow you to work part time for 20 hours per week for on-campus jobs. During summer holidays from June beginning to August end, you may work unrestricted hours and at any location. Post study, you also get the opportunity to apply for jobs in Hong Kong and thus continue to stay there.

Some of the advantages of studying in Hong Kong that we have learned above can be summarized here as follows.
  • Compared to countries in the West, like US and UK, the tuition fees here are quite affordable.
  • Hong Kong has a multicultural identity. It is easy to mix up with the population. For Indians, it is quite like home, as there are a large number of Indians staying here.
  • English is the language most used for higher education as well as for official purposes. Most people here are familiar with English. It, however, helps to learn Chinese. Getting a job then becomes all the more easy.
  • Hostel accommodation is available with the universities and they are quite cheap.
  • Hong Kong is a bustling city with lots of cultural activities and a good number of tourist attractions.
  • You get to stay in a most modern city and with best of the amenities.
  • Hong Kong is well-connected to the world through sea as well as air. It is also quite closer to India, compared to US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, thus cutting down on travel costs for the Indian students.
  • It is the gateway to business opportunities in China.
  • Compared to US, UK or many other countries, it is relatively easy to obtain a visa for Hong Kong.

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About Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a specially administered region of the People's Republic of China. Formerly a British colony, in 1997 it was handed over back to China. It was in 1842, after the First Opium War that the Chinese under the Qing dynasty had ceded Hong Kong to the British forces. Hong Kong was then very thinly populated with fishing and farming being the only occupations of its inhabitants. Over the years, the face of Hong Kong has changed dramatically. With British occupation, the population increased at a fast pace and soon the territory became an important hub for trade and financial transactions. Hong Kong was already a prosperous region when it was returned to China in 1997. The treaty between the Britishers and the Chinese allowed Hong Kong to continue with the benefits of pursuing a market-based economy. Hong Kong was also granted with political freedom and was allowed to have its own governance, however, in a very limited way. Hong Kong was allowed to continue with its currency. As a result of the autonomy, Hong Kong continued to flourish and prosper economically. In recent times, Hong Kong is an international trading hub and as such ranks seventh among all trading entities in the world.

1. Economy- Today, Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita income and its currency, Hong Kong dollar is the 13th most traded currencies in the world. Hong Kong ranks very high in the Human Development Index. In terms of life expectancy, it ranks seventh in the world. There is, however, a dark side to all this development in Hong Kong. Unlike many of the western nations, the income inequality is very severe. The city also suffers from seasonal air pollution during the winter. It is, however, not due to its own making, as it is due to the pollution caused by neighbouring cities and industrial areas in mainland China. The services sector dominates the Hong Kong economy, heavily. Economic freedom is very high, taxes are low and even though it is just a city-state, its stock exchange is the seventh largest in the whole world. Mainland China and the United States are its biggest trading and export partners.

2. Politics and governance- The Sino-British joint declaration has guaranteed Hong Kong local self-governance along with capitalist economic policies as long as 50 years after its handover to China. A Chief Executive heads the local government in Hong Kong. Other than diplomatic and military concerns, the local government can have its own jurisdiction in many other matters related to administration, law and order, bills and budget. It is part of the 'One country, two systems' policy, where it has its own government as well as currency. Being an autonomous region, the city-state is able to practice its own free-market policies, unrelated to that of China. It is also able to have its own cultural and trade relations with other countries.

3. Geography- Hong Kong's location is on the southern coast of China. It has the South China Sea on all its sides except the northern part which borders mainland China's Guangdong city. Hong Kong consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, Lantau Island, New Territories and scores of other islands. The terrain of Hong Kong is mainly hilly with very little flat areas. 40 per cent of the land area has been kept reserved as nature reserves and country parks.

4. Climate- Climate of Hong Kong is typically humid subtropical. Summers are hot and humid and winters mild. Rains, thunderstorms and typhoons are mainly during the summer.

Quick Facts

  • The official name of Hong Kong is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).
  • With more than 7.4 million people living in Hong Kong, it is the fourth most densely populated places in the earth.
  • 92 per cent of the population is Han Chinese, whereas the remaining eight per cent are a mix of Filipinos, Indonesians, Indians, other South Asians and Europeans.
  • The currency of Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). One US dollar is roughly equal to 7.8 HK dollar.
  • From 1842 to 1997, it was only once that the control of Hong Kong went into the hands of the Japanese, and that was during the second world war.
  • Hong Kong port, due to the city's strategic location, is today one of the five busiest container ports in the world.
  • In the whole of the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong has the second highest number of corporate headquarters.
  • The public transport system is very highly developed. Almost 90% of the population makes use of it.
  • The city has Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system that provides an extensive network of 93 metro stations. It has an on-time punctuality rate of 99.9%.
  • Hong Kong has double the number of skyscrapers than in New York, its nearest competitor.
  • People in Hong Kong love to have five meals a day. Their day begins with breakfast, followed by lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and siu yeh, a post-dinner late night meal.
  • Eating noodles during one's birthday is considered auspicious for a long and blessed life.
  • The Tsing Ma bridge is the longest spanning rail and road bridge in the world. The Spanish as long as 1,377 meters.
  • To reduce the usage of fresh water, the flush tanks in the household toilets in Hong Kong use seawater.

Admission Process in Hong Kong

Following is the admission process for applying to a university in Hong Kong. For applying to a university in Hong Kong two essential things are required. One is the study visa and the second is a sponsor in Hong Kong. Generally, the local university that has accepted your candidature acts as your sponsor. Once you are done with research about the universities and the course you are likely to undertake, it's time for you to apply before the deadline. September to December is usually the period when the applications are to be sent to your respective university. Send your applications by mail or through online, if online mode is available. You will also have to pay the necessary fees. To prove that you have proficiency in the English language, you will have to sit for IELTS or TOEFL and send the test reports. If you have very good results in your past exams, have won some medals in academics, extracurricular activities and Olympiads, then there is every likelihood of your gaining a scholarship.

Once your candidature is provisionally accepted by the university you have applied for, it's time for you to apply for the visa. The details about the same have been given in the visa application process.

Student Visa Application Process

To come to Hong Kong for study, one will need a student visa. Following is the procedure for obtaining a visa for Hong Kong.
  • First thing first, get a sponsor in Hong Kong Before beginning with the process for obtaining a visa, one will first need a local sponsor. A sponsor can be anyone. It can be your university that has issued you with the letter of acceptance or a person above 18 years of age, residing in Hong Kong and capable of supporting you financially. A declaration has to be given by the financial sponsor and your parents or guardians should authorize this sponsor to act as your local guardian throughout your stay in Hong Kong.

  • Application forms You will have to fill out the necessary forms. There are two forms. Form ID 995A for the applicant and form ID 995B for the sponsor. The forms can be downloaded from the official website of the immigration office in Hong Kong. You need to affix your recent passport size photograph at the given place.

  • Gather all necessary documents A whole lot of documents are required to accompany your visa application form. A list of them are given in this page subsequently. It is worth mentioning here that the documents that you submit should be able to prove your educational qualification, ability to fund your stay in Hong Kong and your proficiency in the English language along with other documents like passport, identity cards, fee receipts, etc.

  • Visa fees The visa fees will include the application fees as well as other administrative charges. The details of the fees can be had from the website of the immigration office as given above.

  • Submission of documents The visa application form along with the supporting documents are to be submitted at the nearest consulate office or Chinese Embassy of your home country. The documents could be otherwise mailed to CEDARS that stands for Centre of Development and Resources for Students.

  • Allow for processing time Allow time for your visa application to be processed. It typically takes 6-8 weeks to process and approve the application. On receipt of your application by the CEDARS office, an acknowledgement is sent to you. The application is further forwarded to the Hong Kong immigration department which then processes your application based on its merit. Once approved, you are given intimation and the CEDARS office then picks up a visa label and dispatches it to you at your address. Before dispatching, your mailing address will be confirmed by email.

  • Ready to fly On receipt of the visa label by post or courier, attach it to your passport at the designated page. Once done, your visa for studying in Hong Kong is officially ready and you are cleared to fly to Hong Kong in the first instance.
  • Lifestyle

    The people of Hong Kong work hard, but they are also very fun loving people. They have a culture that is a blend of the east and the west. Being prosperous, they love to spend on leisure like cinema, music and food. Hong Kong was once a filmmaking hub. It was known for many of its martial arts films. Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh are still famous names who did Hong Kong proud by their hugely popular films. In recent times the filmmaking has shifted to the mainland.

    In terms of music, both western classical and traditional Chinese music still finds favour here with the local populace. Western classical music is part of the musical education that is imparted to local music enthusiasts. Cantopop, a kind of popular Cantonese music is a popular musical style.

    Cantonese cuisine is the most preferred of the cuisines with the people here. Even with the cosmopolitan influence, people here still consider rice as their staple food. Seafood and poultry products are quite popular. Western kind of food is mostly served at fast food restaurants.

    Hong Kong is also keen on sports and recreation. People love to be part of sporting activities. A number of international sporting events have been organized in the city. The city-state even participates as a separate entity in Olympics and Asian games. When it was a British colony, it used to participate in the Commonwealth Games. Gambling through lotteries, football betting and horse race betting is legal in Hong Kong and the people love to indulge in them in big numbers.

    Cost of Living for Students

    As an overseas student, tuition fees will vary depending on the level of the course and the university you are going to undertake the course. In general, the undergraduates' programs in most universities in Hong Kong cost you around US 12,000 to 20,000 dollars per year in tuition fees. Postgraduate studies may also cost similarly. Research programs will cost less. The tuition fees are normally paid in two equal instalments every year, each time during the beginning of the semester. To outstanding and meritorious students the Hong Kong government even provides scholarships. You will have to check with your university for scholarships if any.

    The cost of living is definitely on the higher side compared to many other Asian countries. Your living expenses depend a lot on the type of accommodation you opt for. You may opt for hostels or single room apartments if your budget permits you. Hostel accommodation may cost you around US 1,900 to 5,800 dollars a year depending upon the location and the facilities available. If you seek an apartment, it will cost you around 12,000 to 22,000 US dollars a year. You may need another 8,000 US dollar per year to account for other living expenses like food, travel, books, clothing, entertainment, mobile recharges, etc. Thus it can be seen that the larger share of your living expenses is accounted by expense on accommodation.

    In case you have an insurance coverage from your home country itself and it covers your entire period of stay in Hong Kong, then it is well and good. You do not have to take any local insurance coverage then. In case otherwise, then it is mandatory to avail a health insurance in Hong Kong.

    Documents for University Admissions in Hong Kong

    Following are the supporting documents required to apply for a university program in Hong Kong and to obtain a student visa.
    1. Your academic mark sheets, certificates and awards, if any.
    2. Letter of acceptance from the concerned university in Hong Kong, where you have applied for.
    3. Your passport with sufficient validity period.
    4. A passport size recent photograph.
    5. Proof of financial capability with regard to funding your stay in Hong Kong for the entire period of stay. You may submit bank statements or other financial document substantiating your claim
    6. Details of scholarships won, if any.
    7. Proof of proficiency in the English language. You may submit your TOEFL or IELTS test score for the same.
    8. An identity card or other document proving your identity.
    9. Completely filled application forms for self as well as the sponsor.
    10. Receipt of all fees paid.

    While applying, you will have to get the photo copies of all your supporting documents. In case your documents are in a language other than English, you will have to get certified true English translations of all of them.

    Higher education in Hong Kong


    In Hong Kong there are eight public universities and twelve other private universities. In addition to the above, there are several other institutions that provide vocational training, self-financing programs and specialized programs like performing arts and so on. There are courses at various levels, say sub-degree programs, associate programs, bachelors and postgraduate degree programs. The bachelors programs are these days of four years length.

    As mentioned earlier there are four universities that rank in the top 50 universities in the world as per QS World University Rankings 2018. Two others are in the top 300. Among the Asian countries, four of Hong Kong's universities come in the top ten universities as per QS Rankings 2018. As per subject also many of the universities have top rankings, especially in subjects like dentistry, education & training, computer science, business & management, finance, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and civil & structural engineering. The names of these top six universities in the order of their ranking are as follows.
    1. University of Hong Kong, ranked 26th
    2. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, ranked 30th
    3. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, ranked 46th
    4. The City University of Hong Kong, ranked 49th (improved its ranking by six places compared to 2017)
    5. Hong Kong Polytechnic University, ranked 95th (has improved 16 places)
    6. Hong Kong Baptist University

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