Renowned university attracts HK students
When the University of British Columbia (UBC) was looking for the best location to open an office in Asia-Pacific in 2005, Hong Kong was not exactly a difficult choice.
On the doorstep of China, and with a long history of cultural and educational exchanges that wasn't so much a two-way street as a super highway, Hong Kong was precisely the shop window the century-old university was looking for.
Split between campuses in the cities of Vancouver and Kelowna, and with some 4,000 staff overseeing 54,000 students, UBC has won itself a reputation as one of the best research and teaching institutions on the continent.
Hong Kong students are attracted as much by the breadth and depth of the programmes on offer, as by the fee structure, which is considered extremely reasonable.
International students at UBC generally pay slightly more than C$20,000 (HK$151,000) a year in undergraduate tuition fees, while graduate students face an annual bill of around C$10,000.
Canadian students pay far less, which makes the country's higher education institutions even more attractive to Canadian passport holders.
Hong Kong students make up a substantial proportion of the 150,000 from overseas who go to Canada to attend educational institutions.
On top of the advantage of having a wealth of highly respected universities and colleges, that charge among the lowest tuition fees in the world, eligible students can pick up valuable work experience in jobs off campus.
In addition, Hong Kong students won't feel out of place in Canada as it is a multicultural country, so students automatically feel at home in communities and campuses which are intrinsically diverse.
'Education links play a key role in fostering the close ties that bind Canada and Hong Kong. Canada is one of the most popular destinations for overseas studies for Hong Kong citizens. Canada offers affordable education.
'The quality of education and living standards in Canada are among the highest in the world, but the cost of living and tuition fees for international students are generally lower than in other countries such as US and UK. As such, Canada is often the preferred choice for students attending college or university,' says J. Ian Burchett, Consul General of Canada.
What's more, the United Nations ranks Canada as having one of the highest quality of living standards on earth which, coupled with a very reasonable cost of living, makes studying in Canada even more attractive.
What might be termed Brand Canada's educational offerings have also made their way across the Pacific Ocean, setting up in Hong Kong to provide students with their expertise on the doorstep.
The Richard Ivey School of Business, part of the University of Western Ontario, set up in Hong Kong in 1998 as the Cheng Yu Tung Management Institute, operating from dedicated premises within the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The syllabus embraces the full executive MBA as taught in Canada, thus granting students a world-class degree that is the full equivalent of one from the school's Canadian campus.
Ivey, which has been in business for 90 years, is consistently rated among the best business schools around the globe, and it claims that two-fifths of its graduates now carry titles such as president, CEO or managing director in their companies.
While the overall cost of an Ivey course - HK$880,000 - may seem a substantial outlay, it covers tuition, software and airfare to Canada for a residence week, and an international field trip.
Some 30 Canadian university alumni associations continue to thrive in Hong Kong, providing a social forum and some unparalleled networking opportunities.