East meets West: Study in Hongkong
| April 30,2012 02:02 pm IST
Studying in Hong Kong can offer something for every student: for Westerners, the idea of experiencing one of the most accessible Asian cultures, where many speak English. For Asian students, studying in Hong Kong can offer a stepping stone to acclimatising to a heavily globalised world.
Traditional Chinese architecture alongside skyscrapers to rival New York, all-night clubbing followed by tai chi on the waterfront, bustling markets surrounded by flagship designer stores: Hong Kong truly has something for everyone.
Over the past two centuries, the city state has passed from Chinese rule to British, to Japanese, back to British, and since 1997 has been part of the Chinese motherland once again. Through all this, it has emerged as a unique and vibrant metropolis, one of the worlds leading financial centres, and a top destination for higher education.
Youd be forgiven for being confused about whether Hong Kong is really part of China.
Its official status is a semi-autonomous, special administrative region. This basically means that while the Chinese government has the last say, in most matters Hong Kong is independent.
It has its own government, currency and legal system, and social norms are often different to those of the mainland one country, two systems, the saying goes.
There are eight government-funded universities in Hong Kong, of which three appear in the top 50 of the QS World University Rankings 2011/12. The University of Hong Kong is ranked 22, the Chinese University of Hong Kong at 37, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 40. Higher education is also provided by specialist colleges and self-funded universities.
As of 2012, four years, rather than the previous three, will be the norm for most undergraduate degrees.
The majority of courses are taught in English, but Hong Kongs universities also offer crash-courses in Mandarin for those who are keen to learn. The system is broadly compatible with that of mainland China, and in some cases its possible for international students to participate in exchange programs with universities in China.
Universities in Hong Kong are very open to foreign students and offer a number of scholarships, including some exclusively for international students. These range from partial fees payment to grants that cover all fees, accommodation and living expenses.
University life in Hong Kong: admission, entry and visa requirements
The academic year in Hong Kong has just two semesters, one from early September to late December, and a second from mid-January to May. Kong Kongs university application deadlines vary, but are usually between December and May, for courses starting the following September.
Applicants are expected to have completed secondary education and gained satisfactory results in their countrys leaving exams (such as A-levels, Baccalaureate or SATs). Proficiency in English is also required, so students who do not speak English as a first language will need to take an exam such as the TOEFL or IELTS.
Once youve been offered a place, the university should arrange a local sponsor for your visa application. Youll have to submit an application form, as well as proof of identity, evidence of your academic qualifications and a financial statement (either of your own finances or those of someone who is supporting you).
The Immigration Department is also likely to request details of where you intend to live in Hong Kong, so its best to arrange this in advance, either through the university or independently. Most visas need to be renewed annually so remember to do this in good time (at least four weeks before the expiry date).
Foreign students are limited in the types of part-time work they can do, but study-related internships, part-time jobs on campus and summer vacation work are generally fine. When your visa is approved you should receive a No Objection Letter detailing the types of employment you can apply for.
Useful resources for studying in Hong Kong
Government guide to scholarships http://studyinhongkong.edu.hk/eng/01scholarships.jsp
Hong Kong Tourism Board http://www.discoverhongkong.com/login.html
List of Chinese embassies http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zwjg/2490/
University of Hong Kong guide to student accommodation
Immigration Department student visa FAQs http://www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/faq_ipoe.htm
Study in Hong Kong: fast facts
Currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$), which is the eighth most traded currency in the global foreign exchange market.
One of the most densely populated places in the world, with an area of 1,098 sq km and a population of more than seven million.
International dialling code is +852 and internet domain is .hk.
Government headed by the Chief Executive, currently Donald Tsang.
Since 1997, Hong Kong has existed under the one country, two systems policy officially part of China, but with its own government and currency.
Both Cantonese and English are widely spoken, and both are recognized as official languages.
Hong Kongs International Commerce Centre is the fourth tallest building in the world, at 484m (1,588ft).
Ranked ninth most expensive city worldwide in Mercers Cost of Living Index 2011.
In 1997, Hong Kong launched the worlds first contactless smart card payment system, the Octopus card, now used not only for public transport but also payments in shops, restaurants, cark parks and vending machines.
About 95% of the population are of Chinese origin; the next largest groups are Filipino, American and Thai.
Time zone is UTC+8.0
For those interested in the career benefits of an undergraduate education, QS series of global management education events comes to India from 12th to the 18th May. Register for free entry to the event by visiting www.topuniversities.com