Speech at Council Meeting-Members’ Motions “Actively building Hong Kong into an international education hub by formulating a comprehensive strategic development blueprint for Hong Kong’s education”


Deputy President, the development of education is closely related to the prosperity of a country.  Globally, every superpower is a leading country in education.  It was clearly pointed out in last year’s Policy Address that to develop Hong Kong into an international hub for post-secondary education, measures such as increasing the admission quota of non-local students to government-funded post-secondary institutions and enhancing learning and enrichment opportunities for international students will be adopted.

At present, the total number of Hong Kong international students is 63 200, accounting for about 20% of the total number of students.  Among the 660 000 international students in the Mainland, less than 7% are studying in Hong Kong.  Building an international education centre can bring about an upgrade of university infrastructure, and the industrialization of education can also bring better economic benefits.  Therefore, the Government may consider the synergistic development of international education centre and the “eight centres”, so as to, first, greatly attract outstanding Mainland and global talents to study in Hong Kong; second, take forward the development of the “Northern Metropolis University Town”; and third, encourage more diversified capital to participate in the development of the education centre.

Before the announcement of last year’s Policy Address, the eight major institutions in Hong Kong were allowed to admit up to 20% of non-local students.  According to the figures of the University Grants Committee, non-local students of the University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in the 2022-2023 academic year account for 23.7% and 22.4% respectively, while the numbers for the other institutions range from 10.1% to 17.8%.  It is believed that relaxing the admission quota of non-local students to 40% will help enhance the internationalization of education in Hong Kong.  But it should at the same time be supported by more detailed admission and publicity strategies.

At present, the enrolment publicity of Hong Kong institutions for non-local students is relatively restricted and lacks initiative and focus.  Non-local students mostly obtain information on Hong Kong institutions online.  They mainly visit the official websites of the institutions to apply for admission or make enquiries, or look for sharing of personal experience on the Internet.  These searches are usually done by non-local students on their own initiative.  Hong Kong institutions seldom take the initiative to advertise online, and there is a lack of offline publicity campaigns such as “admission roadshows” organized by Mainland institutions.  As students from different countries and regions have different considerations and concerns in choosing institutions, targeted publicity strategies and approaches are necessary to attract students from different places to study in Hong Kong.

It is believed that multiple benefits can be achieved by combining the strategic development of our country’s Belt and Road Initiative and regionalized enrolment publicity.  Enrolment publicity should be more active and customized.  For example, institutions can invite staff and students from the corresponding countries or regions to participate in the publicity process, and enhance the understanding of students from different countries or regions on Hong Kong institutions through video cassette recording (VCR), online or offline interactions, etc.  With the large number of countries along the Belt and Road, it is believed that the enrolment will enhance the internationalization of Hong Kong institutions.

The wastage of non-local graduates is also quite notable.  Owing to the high cost of living in Hong Kong, limited internship and employment opportunities, as well as a lack of understanding of the local society, the number of non-local graduates who choose to remain in Hong Kong for employment after graduation has been on a downward trend in recent years, which is not conducive to the promotion of the benefits of pursuing studies in Hong Kong.  It is suggested that the Government provide more internship and employment opportunities to engage non-local students in the local working environment during their study in in Hong Kong, so as to facilitate their integration into our society.  As non-local students gain first-hand experience of Hong Kong’s social and employment environment through this initiative, it is believed that they will spread positive word-of-mouth in their places of origin and attract more local students to pursue studies in Hong Kong.

With the staunch support from the motherland, Hong Kong should leverage the rich education resources in the Mainland to help develop into an international education hub.  For example, Hong Kong universities can collaborate with Mainland institutions to launch the “N+N” academic structure, which involves two stages of study in Hong Kong and Mainland institutions, so as to enhance the attractiveness of Hong Kong universities to non-local students by enriching the curriculum.

Hong Kong’s post-secondary education has long been highly internationalized and diversified.  As the only city with five universities in the world’s top 100, Hong Kong should better promote the brand of “Study in China”.

I would like to thank Mr TANG Fei for proposing this motion, and I support the original motion and the amendments proposed by the five Honourable colleagues.  I so submit.