Top mainland Chinese student quits HKU in hope of admission to Peking University

Liu Dingning accepted an offer from the School of Chinese at HKU after she became the top scorer among Liaoning's liberal arts majors in the National College Entrance Exam

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 11:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 7:04pm

A top mainland student who was admitted into the University of Hong Kong this fall with a full scholarship has quit her studies and returned to her hometown in Liaoning, gearing up to take the college exam again to obtain a spot at Peking University - HKU’s chief mainland rival.

A spokesperson at HKU confirmed on Friday that Liu had taken a leave of absence from the university.

Liu Dingning accepted an offer from the university's School of Chinese after she won top scores among Liaoning’s liberal arts majors in the extremely competitive National College Entrance Exam this year. Liu was awarded a full scholarship by HKU,  reported a Liaoning-based Bandao Morning News in July. 

However, Liu had always wanted to study at PKU, according to Chinese media reports. She said she was surprised by her outstanding performance in the exam and apparently she had found HKU’s offer too good to turn down.

Yet months later, she dropped out of the coveted program, surprising her peers on the mainland.

“Is this real? I really admire her courage,” said one student on a Baidu forum.

Another online user named "Wei Xinyuan" says he also studies at HKU and knows Liu. 

"She is already under a lot of pressure, so let's just wish her success," Wei wrote. 

The news has been confirmed by Liu’s mother and Li Yucheng, the principal of Benxi High School in Liaoning, where Liu graduated this year. In a phone conversation with Chinese media, Li said Liu made the decision because she prefers a program that focuses on “purer Chinese studies".

Soon after she accepted the offer from HKU, Liu said on a Chinese TV talkshow programme this summer that she had always preferred the Chinese literature programme at Peking University, but made the decision to go to Hong Kong as her family members encouraged her to "go out and see the world while you are young."

HKU’s global ranking fell to 43rd in the latest survey by Times Higher Education magazine, where PKU ranked the 45th. 

It admitted 303 mainland students this year, from a record number of 12,513 applicants. Among them, 16 received top scores at the provincial or municipal levels,according to a press release by the university.

Liu Han, the 25-year-old mainland woman whose tragic death this week gave rise to ferocious online trolls against mainland immigrants , also graduated from HKU. Like Liu Dingning, she was a so-called  "Zhuangyuan", which means top scorer, from Yunnan province in the 2006 National Entrance Exam. 

The Students’ Union council at HKU has announced that it will hold an annual debate on the topic “The maximum intake of non-local applicants to HKU should be reduced.”

Neither Liu nor the Benxi High School could be reached for a comment on Friday.

A spokesperson at HKU told the Post in an email on Friday:

"Ms Liu Dingning has expressed her wish to take leave of absence from her study at the Faculty of Arts. We will also offer any assistance, on matters of academics and others, where needed. We have been liaising with Peking University with a view to working out possible arrangement for her to pursue the studies that she is most interested in. Ms Liu is currently granted leave from her studies in the University and she can return to her studies when she desires to do so."

Responding to a question about Liu's scholarship, the spokesperson said, "For any student who had been taking leave of absence will enjoy her scholarship funding when she resumes her study at the University." 

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