HONG KONG's biggest showcase of British education - the British Education Festival - gave local students a unique opportunity to learn about the latest developments in leading institutions in the country. Secretary for Education and Manpower Joseph Wong Wing-ping, the guest-of-honour at the launching ceremony, said the many interactive activities and workshops featured in the festival gave students an excellent opportunity to obtain first-hand information and expert guidance on education in Britain. Commenting on the importance of overseas education for Hong Kong students, Mr Wong said: 'Obtaining overseas education is common among young people in international cities like Hong Kong, where people have the freedom of choice.' He added that after the successful completion of their studies abroad, students returned home with not only knowledge and skills but 'a fresh mind and a new perspective - ready to meet the political, social and economic challenges ahead'. The three-day festival, held at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre last week, featured 177 leading British institutions as well as 36 seminars and 10 special events including workshops and games. Senior British Trade Commissioner Francis Cornish said the festival was aimed at giving students an idea about the activities held at school, college or university open days in Britain. 'Students can learn for themselves what British education institutions have to offer them,' Mr Cornish said. Participating institutions included independent schools and colleges of further and higher education and popular universities from all over Britain. Visitors were also able to get first-hand information from representatives of professional organisations such as the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants and the Universities and Colleges Admission Service. The British Council offers local students information on English courses in Britain, distance learning courses, the newly-launched Chevening scholarships and other educational activities. Georgiana Tam of the City University, said she found the advice given by the representatives 'very useful'. Georgiana plans to study English at a British university. 'I received up-to-date information on admission criteria, courses available, tuition and living expenses,' she said. Adam Radford of South Island School, said the festival was fun. 'The activities gave me a taste of life and studying environment in Britain.' The activities also included an audio-visual fashion show, a theatre make-up workshop and musical theatre workshop, and an interactive multi-media workshop.