Studying in Hong Kong

Why study in Hong Kong?

One of the world's leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a thriving economy characterised by low taxation and free trade, and one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

Hong Kong is politically separate from mainland China and is one of two Special Administrative Regions (the other is the former Portuguese colony of Macau), where there is a high degree of autonomy in all matters except for foreign relations and military defence.

  • There are eight public universities in Hong Kong.
  • The University of Hong Kong (HKU), established in 1910–12, is the oldest.
  • From 2012, most undergraduate degrees are for four years, rather than the previous three.
  • Most courses are taught in English, but there are short courses in Mandarin.

The number of international students in Hong Kong has risen to more than 14,000 (among them almost 9,000 from mainland China).

Entry and visa regulations

A study visa is required. Once accepted by a university, applicants will normally be guided through the process by their chosen institution. A sponsor is needed – the university will usually act as a student's local sponsor if an applicant is accepted by the university.

  • Applicants must be able to prove that they will be able to pay tuition fees, living expenses for their maintenance and accommodation without working and without recourse to public funds. 
  • Nationals of Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, Nepal, North Korea and Vietnam are barred from studying in Hong Kong.

The university system

Hong Kong has eight public and several private institutions. Most undergraduate degrees are now four year courses, rather than the previous three. Courses are taught in English, but short courses in Mandarin are available.

  • The application period for international students is usually from September to December in the year prior to the year of admission. This means that if a student is applying for admission in 2018, he/she must send in the application in the period of September to December of 2017. Late applications are sometimes accepted but the chances of getting a place are much lower.
  • Applicants may print out an application form and send it by mail or courier service, or apply online if available.
  • Applicants who do not have English as their first language should take TOEFL, IELTS or other acceptable English language tests to prove their English proficiency.

Tuition fees and funding your study

  • Tuition fees in Hong Kong vary depending on university and program of study. Postgraduate fees depend on the programme selected. In addition academic expenses (books, field trips and so on) account for approximately £600–£2,500 for undergraduates and £800–£3,300 for postgraduates.
  • Some scholarships are available.

Student housing

  • The state universities have a variety of residential halls and colleges and there are private alternatives, but both may be in short supply so early application is advised.

Costs of living

The cost of living in Hong Kong is higher than in many other Asian countries, but students from overseas can still enjoy a good standard of living.

Typical costs in Hong Kong (GBP, March 2015)

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £944 - £1,424 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £4.36
  • Meal at McDonalds: £2,62
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £2.66
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £2.53
  • Cappuccino: £2.78
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £0.67
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.57
  • Loaf of bread: £1.38
  • Cigarettes: £4.67
  • One-way ticket local transport: £0.70
  • Cinema ticket: £6.98

Working while studying

  • Since the 2008–09 academic year, student visa holders in degree courses of more than one year's duration at tertiary institutions may take up short-term internships that are study/curriculum-related and be arranged or endorsed by their university and up to one year’s duration with no restriction on the nature of work, level of salary, location, number of working hours and employers.
  • Students may alternatively take up part-time on-campus employment for up to 20 hours per week throughout the year, or summer jobs (1 June to 31 August) with no limit on work hours and location.
  • Graduates from a Hong Kong university may apply to stay in Hong Kong or return to work there.

Health and safety

Hong Kong’s healthcare system is considered good with medical training as rigorous as in the UK. There is a public health service but it is not free at the point of delivery. Private medical treatment in Hong Kong is expensive for foreigners and health insurance is advisable. Universities operate health services that are free to students.

  • The level of violent crime is very low but street crime can occur.
  • Make sure anything you drink can’t be tampered with. Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers and always have a trusted friend to keep an eye on any unfinished drink if you need to leave it for a period of time.
  • Penalties for possession, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Hong Kong are severe, and if you are convicted, you can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • Homosexuality is legal in Hong Kong and public opinion shows increased awareness about and tolerance for LGBT people.

Helpful links

International Rankings

University Rankings 2018–19

University QS
QS World University Rankings 2018–19

Global university rankings compiled annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). QS ranks institutions by the following key indicators; academic peer review, faculty student ratio, citations per faculty, recruiter review, international orientation.

See the QS World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

THE World University Rankings 2018–19

Global university rankings compiled annually by the Times Higher Education (THE). THE ranks institutions by performance in the following categories; Industry Income, Teaching, Research and Citations.

See THE World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

Chinese University of Hong Kong 49 53
City University of Hong Kong 55 -
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 37 41
University of Hong Kong 25 36

Business School Rankings 2019

Business School Financial Times
Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2019

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by the Financial Times. MBA programmes are ranked by a number of key indicators including salary increase, value for money, career progression. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

The Economist
The Economist Which MBA? Ranking 2018

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by The Economist. MBA programmes are ranked by the following categories; career opportunities, personal development, salary increase and potential to network. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

More about the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation here.

Association of MBA

More about the Association of MBA (AMBA) accreditation here.

European Quality Improvement System

More about the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation here.

Brigham Young (Marriott) 78 - Y
ESMT - European School of Management and Technology 79 56 Y Y
Hult International Business School - 43 Y Y
University of Washington: Foster 49 22 Y