Rise in overseas study shows wealth divide

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 January, 2011, 12:00am

The number of well-off people sending their children to study overseas is rising while the number of poorer families doing so is falling, another indication of Hong Kong's growing wealth gap.

An academic said it reflected the impact of rising tuition fees and dissatisfaction of the middle class with the education system.

A survey by the Census and Statistics Department found that 9.5 per cent of households earning HK$60,000 a month or more had at least one family member studying overseas compared with 8.5 per cent in a similar survey in 2002.

Meanwhile, the percentage of households on HK$10,000 or less with one or more overseas students dropped from 1.1 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

This emerged from a survey of 10,000 households conducted from November 2009 to February last year.

The survey also found that the overall proportion of the city's 2.1 million households that had overseas students was 2.8 per cent, little changed from 2.9 per cent in 2002.

The average monthly household income for all households with children studying overseas increased from HK$31,300 to HK$35,000.

Siu Yat-ming, associate dean of Baptist University's department of sociology, said the rich-poor gap was widening in education.

'As tuition fees are rising, only those with high incomes can afford an overseas education.'

He said the findings also showed rising dissatisfaction of the middle class with the local education system. 'More and more affluent families prefer an overseas education which can boost children's language proficiency and sharpen their international outlook.'

Britain was the top choice, ahead of Australia and the US.