HONG KONG-BORN students in Australian secondary schools are far more likely to aspire to university education than those born in Australia, and a new study shows they are more likely to achieve their goals. The New South Wales study, which excludes those students temporarily in Australia for study purposes and takes in only those with citizenship or permanent residence, has found major differences between what Asian-born students want for themselves and expect of their schools, compared with those born in Australia or other Western countries. And it is those born in Hong Kong who head the tables in virtually all areas, including higher education participation rates, aspirations for university places and the importance parents place on their children going to university. Interestingly, in line with the expectation that migrants not only influence their new culture but are influenced by it, the study's authors found that the proportion of Hong Kong-born students aspiring to university declined slightly the longer they had been in Australia. 'The high proportion of recently arrived Hong Kong-born students who aspire to university education may be closely tied to the education process,' the authors found. 'If the greater opportunities for university education for their children influenced a family's decision to migrate to Australia, we would expect the children to aspire to university.' The study, published in the Australian Forum for Population Studies journal People and Place, was carried out in 1993 by Dr Nick Parr and Dr Magdalena Mok of Sydney's Macquarie University. They used Education Department and census data and interviewed 2,615 Year 11 pupils, most aged 16 or 17, from 27 Sydney city schools and three Saturday Chinese schools. About one in every three students was from a non-English speaking background - a figure representing the overall Sydney school population. There were 114 Hong Kong-born students interviewed - 78 girls and 36 boys. Dr Parr and Dr Mok found a far higher proportion of students born in Hong Kong, Northeast Asia, Malaysia and China intended to go to university than those born in Australia. A whopping 91 per cent of Hong Kong students had such plans, as did 88 per cent of those from China. That compares with just 53 per cent of all the students studied, 46 per cent of those born in Australia and just 40 per cent at the country at the bottom of the list - New Zealand. The importance parents placed on university education followed the same pattern, illustrating what the authors say is a well-documented link: the importance of parental beliefs, expectations and aspirations to their children's educational success. They found that on a scale rating parents' aspirations for their children from one to nine, the Hong Kong-born students' parents scored 7.99. Mainland-born students' parents scored 7.78.