The British Council has assured local students that qualifications gained in Britain will be as useful in Hong Kong after the handover as they are now. Neil Maynard, director of education at the British Council, told a recent seminar: 'Students planning to study in Britain should not worry about the qualification they obtain being recognised after the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.' He said education in Britain for those who already had university degrees was 'internationally recognised' because of its long history and 'sound reputation'. Mr Maynard said there was a good system of national qualifications and education was backed by up-to-date technology. He said there were several other reasons students were attracted to study in Britain. They could enter the education system at any level, from preparatory school at the age of seven through to university, from 18 upwards. There was a wide range of qualifications and many different subjects were offered. Britain also offered the chance to learn English in the best possible environment, where people spoke and wrote it every day. Although most Hong Kong tertiary institutes had launched postgraduate education, Mr Maynard predicted that studying abroad would still be popular over the next few years. He said the market for postgraduate education in Hong Kong had been developing for only a few years. Institutions in the territory lagged their overseas counterparts in the range, quality and reputation of their qualifications, Mr Maynard said. One of the seminar's participants, Matthew Lai Man-kit, agreed. He said the structure and length of courses in Britain were better than those in Hong Kong. He said he planned to further his studies in Britain next year and was not worried that his qualification would not be recognised after the handover.