In the 2012 Times Higher Education Reputation report, The University of Hong Kong jumped three places from 2011, to be ranked the 39th best university in the world. The latest QS World University Rankings voted the University of Hong as 22nd in the world and, first in Asia, yet again. But it’s not just rankings that make colleges in Hong Kong popular globally. Being a melting pot of different nationalities and cultures, Hong Kong presents a unique fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.
It is an important international financial centre as can be seen by the number of multinational financial institutions that have set up operations on this island. A premier trading hub between mainland China and the rest of the world, Hong Kong offers exceptional exposure to global business and also tremendous career opportunities. High teaching standards The colleges, especially the University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), boast of high teaching quality, internationalised population of staff and students, and outstanding rate of employment among their graduates. The emphasis on group work, projects and presentations makes the learning extremely pertinent. Classes are conducted in small groups which welcome students to express their views openly and participate in stimulating discussions. The technological facilities in Hong Kong are superb.
Programme duration Most Bachelor’s programmes are completed in three years of full-time study. Specialised fields or joint degrees may require another year or two. Some non-local students can take a ‘Foundation Year’ which better prepares them for undergraduate studies. From 2013 onwards, many Hong Kong universities have adopted the American system requiring four years of study to attain a Bachelor’s degree. The completion of a Master’s degree takes one or two years. Popular programmes of study for Indian students in HK are engineering and business-based. In fact, the experiential learning component makes the business programmes extremely exciting; the presence of top corporates in HK makes for a great backdrop to study.Academic calendar The academic year usually consists of two semesters, from early September to late December and mid-January to May. Days off for public holidays (Hong Kong has 12) may need to be made up at the end of a semester. An orientation session for first-year students is usually held in late August. Requirements for postgraduates will depend on the course you wish to apply to.
When and how to apply Application deadlines generally fall one semester ahead of your intended start (Eg: Spring of 2015 for September 2016 admission). Applicants are advised to confirm the deadline with their chosen institution well in advance. Prospective Indian students have to apply under the NON JUPAS scheme; this category is for non-local applicants or applicants with international qualifications. Applications must be completed online in one sitting as there is no provision to save them. So, it’s a good idea to check the requirements and documents needed before starting an application. Some programmes might ask for your transcripts, from Grade 9-Grade 12 (first term). Recommendations are not compulsory but one from a school counsellor will help. Some schools require a short write-up; use the space for providing details that are not evident from the application or your transcripts.
Admission criteria For undergraduate programmes, students need to be in Class 12. Students are required to submit their TOEFL or IELTS scores to demonstrate the level of English. While SAT is not mandatory, one should report the scores to the university if you have taken it. It supports your application. For graduate programmes admissions, students apply when they are in the final year of college. Hong Kong accepts three-year undergraduate degrees from India. Admission to the MBA programmes normally requires work experience of at least two years and a GMAT score. Fees and expenses The fees for an undergraduate course is US $ 17,100 - $17,700 while the fees for postgraduate course ranges from US $9,700 – US $17,500. The City University of Hong Kong estimates the cost of living at around US $775 to US$1,125 per month. This includes food, lodging and general living expenses, depending on the type of accommodation. An MBA costs around US $51,000. There are a number of scholarships available to international applicants. Details of each are available on the college website. Once you are admitted, the university will offer you the scholarship upon admission or inform you to apply accordingly. Amount of the scholarships vary depending on the type of scholarship or award. Visa Once you accept admission in a particular university, the university will assist you in applying for a student visa. The university acts as a sponsor and forwards the application form to the Hong Kong Immigration Department which requires whole lot of paperwork, including financial documents and six weeks of time.
Work options Your visa allows you to study in Hong Kong, not to work there. However, this restriction was relaxed in case of full-time students whose study period is not less than one year. From 2008/09 onwards, students are allowed study related internships, campus jobs or summer jobs. The students (excluding exchange students) may take up:
Part-time on-campus employment for not more than 20 hours per week throughout the year; and
Employment during the summer months without any limit
Life in Hong Kong Though a part of Mainland China, since Hong Kong was part of the British empire for nearly a century, the city state is extremely cosmopolitan. International students, especially those from India, seem to be rather well adjusted in HK. They state that the education is geared towards improving their powers of analysis. While there is tremendous emphasis on independence, students are well supported by the faculty who guide them gently. The universities have achieved a delicate balance between western independence and eastern deference to authorities. People in HK are warm and accept the international students with open arms. There is scope to engage in a variety of events on campus and gain a global perspective. The support extended by the faculty, students and staff is impressive. Engagement in many intercultural activities assists in broadening student perspectives and making them more ‘international’! Food might be a slight problem but can be overcome in due course. From school work and dynamic residence life to exploring the metropolitan city of Hong Kong, international students seem to find their tenure on this island very enriching. The author Mrinalini Batra is the Founder & CEO of International Educational Exchange
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