Cash in on great study deals
One of the effects of the financial crisis is that many professionals have gone back to school to upgrade their knowledge - but when money's tight it's important to know where you can get financial assistance.
Even part-time postgraduate study can put a considerable strain on finances, although help is at hand if you know where to find it. But be prepared to do some digging on the internet and elsewhere and plan ahead.
The government may well be the first port of call if you are studying locally, but it is unlikely to cover the full cost of a postgraduate course.
The Hong Kong Research Grants Council is offering a new scheme to attract international talent. The Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme aims to lure the best and brightest students in the world to Hong Kong to pursue their PhD programmes.
The council says all students seeking admission for full-time PhD studies, regardless of country of origin and ethnic background, are welcome to apply. The fellowship provides a monthly stipend of HK$20,000 and a conference and research-related travel allowance of HK$10,000 a year for three years. A total of 135 fellowships will be awarded.
Meanwhile, the Continuing Education Fund allows eligible candidates to claim back 80 per cent of tuition fees for suitable courses, up to a maximum of HK$10,000.
University graduates have been able to apply for the bursary since 2003, and a limited number of master's courses are now included in the list of recognised programmes. Although most programmes charge much more, every little bit helps.
The Home Affairs Bureau's website provides information on local trust funds with grants and bursaries for postgraduate students. Some are applicable to non-local programmes, including the Li Po Chun Charitable Trust Fund and the Sir Robert Black Trust Fund.
Students planning to head overseas may be well advised to look for non-local sources of assistance. A simple internet search reveals millions of scholarship-related websites. There are more than 1,700 on the internationalscholarships.com site alone.
Destination nations are also a great source of support. In this globalised age, competition for promising international students is keen, and many governments are willing to meet tuition and even travel costs in some cases - for a lucky few at least.
Students interested in Britain can apply for the Chevening Scholarship Programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with local support from Li Ka-shing and other sponsors. The awards fund one year of postgraduate study, travel and living costs, up to about HK$350,000.
The Hong Kong and Macao programme was launched this month and will close on January 15. The British Council will be holding an information seminar about the scholarships this Thursday (Nov 19), from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, on 5/F of the British Council, 3 Supreme Court Road, Admiralty. Reservations can be made on 2913 5100 or e-mail email@example.com
Students can select any one-year course at any British university. In addition, there are several awards linked to specific subjects including journalism, art and design, and sustainability and environmental-related subjects. These are:
Two for journalists: A six-month research fellowship at the Reuters Foundation Programme, University of Oxford, and a three-month intensive course at University of Sheffield.
Sir S.Y. Chung University of Sheffield Chevening Scholarship for any one-year postgraduate course at Sheffield.
The Aberdeen Scott Chevening Scholarship for a one-year course in environmental-science related subjects at the University of Aberdeen.
Up to three scholarships, funded by HSBC, for study in subjects related to sustainability in a selected group of universities.
Two TAL Middlesex University Chevening Scholarships for a one-year taught master's in any art and design subject at Middlesex University.
In addition to Hutchison's support, the legacy of Sir S.K. Tang funds one award at any university.
This year applications must be made online. Information about the scholarships and the application process can be found at www.britishcouncil.org.hk/chevening
Endeavour Awards from the Australian government brighten the prospect of a course of study Down Under. Worth up to A$158,000 (HK$800,000) for a three-year course, the grants include tuition, living allowance and travelling expenses. Endeavour Research Fellowships and Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowships are also available for research students, to the lesser tune of A$23,500.
Japan's ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology offers a specific set of awards for Hong Kong and Macau students. Aside from undergraduate scholarships, the research grants run for 18 months to two years, providing students under 35 with a monthly allowance of 170,000 yen (HK$13,300).
Canada and the United States also provide government scholarships for overseas postgraduate students, as do many other developed nations.
Universities often have their own scholarship programmes, largely funded through private donations.
Scholarships for minority groups - ethnic, gender or sexual preference - are common, particularly in the US. The Online Education Database (www.oedb.org) even lists a US$1,000 scholarship for left-handed students.
www.HKPF@ugc.edu.hk - Hong Kong Research Grants Council
www.sfaa.gov.hk/cef/course.htm - Continuing Education Fund
www.hab.gov.hk - Home Affairs Bureau
www.britishcouncil.org.hk/chevening - Chevening Scholarships
www.endeavour.deewr.gov.au - Endeavour Awards