IAIN Brice, business studies (Edinburgh) and land economy (Aberdeen), is visibly chuffed he has survived his first scratching months in Hongkong. Emily Ashworth, drama (Lancaster), is not planning to stay here or anywhere - yet in seven weeks she has moved from $40 in her pocket to $6,000 in a Hang Seng bank account. Jane Kaysell, law (Cardiff) and a qualified barrister, is displaying settler determination with no return ticket and rent deposit put on a Wan Chai ''shoe box''; after only a fortnight. Anthony Healy, English literature and a PhD in critical theory (Oxford), is rapt after eight months by the difference of the place and the complaints numbers stencilled on the rubbish bins, but seems to harbour the suspicion that it might be all one gross conspiracy. Common to all four is that they are British, out of university, out of a career and out here. They are highly educated statistics in a trend that has become more pronounced as the British recession has deepened and the land has gone moodily still in its darkness. Young Brits are simply walking out and, if many are to be believed, not returning. They are a new breed - mobile, backs turned on conventional family life and solid careers in the damp island kingdom. They are described by one as ''Euroyuppies''. Recently, The Guardian newspaper ran a feature asking ''Why are all our graduates going to Hongkong?'' Addressing the jury, Jane is forthright. ''Why should I sit around wasting the best years of my life?'' Emily weighs in. ''Even trying to get a casual job, they'd only deduct the pay from your dole, which pays more.'' Disenchantment is deeper than straightforward unemployment. As anyone who has been to Britain lately will know, there is a malaise of the will. Iain is contemptuous. ''Morals have gone down, not just in the big cities; even in Perthshire. If someone has got a cheap VCR, it will mean it is nicked. Nobody cares any more.'' Pelleted through Anthony's intellect is a Lancastrian bluntness which will stand no ''flannelling'', as they say up there. ''You're taking dictation now,'' he said to me. ''In a nutshell, you get sick and tired of organising your life around what you canget instead of what you want and putting a brave face on it. You get sick of dealing with desperate, frightened, uptight people with zero experience; people who think that if they can manage to maintain the status quo, it's a success story.'' They are all aware of the acronym FILTH - ''failed in London try Hongkong''. At best it amuses the new emigres. It is out of date. It also forgets the conditions which established British businessmen and managers arrived here in once upon a time. The new arrivals insist they are not wanderers, or dope heads running away. To begin with, they have not failed. Such is the condition of the British economy, they have not had a chance to. Iain, who wants to be a chartered surveyor, remembers that lastyear the whole of graduate Scotland was chasing 12 places in firms. Jane did not even attempt the futility of applying to barristers' chambers and ''temped'' on a typewriter in a solicitor's office. Anthony did have one ''post'' as a ''head of research'' in a publishing house but his tone suggested it lacked credibility. He became more accustomed to picking asparagus in Sussex and cleaning out grain silos in Birkenhead on the end of a rope with a brush. For most graduates the first step is shelf-filling in supermarkets. Facing the eternal hopelessness of a career in the theatre, Emily even worked with companies free for the experience. Jane said she was prepared to do the same thing here. I felt bound to tell her that in a town where people could pay more than $9 million for a car number plate, she should take the admirable sentiment home and nail it to her new floorboards. Many emigres never even bother with London. The totality of the recession has long since faded London away as a lure. The capital is as washed up as its provinces. They packed their bags and made straight for Hongkong. As Iain said: ''Hongkong is the first big city I have lived in.'' And Edinburgh? ''Ach, small time.'' If you ask them why they chose Hongkong, their answers have a slightly embarrassed naivety. It was a British colony so you could jump on a plane without a visa. It was booming, wasn't it? The stock market was incredible to watch. There was no unemployment. Everybody spoke English, didn't they? ''It doesn't fully occur to anybody that this is a Chinese city,'' Anthony said. ''You somehow believe that you still get Blue Peter on the telly and tea and cakes at half past four. My expectations of Hongkong are fully fulfilled. I thought it would be too hot and it is. I thought it would be different - and that it certainly is.'' It is ironic that the willingness to take the risk which the Euroyuppies show in coming here could make a difference to Britain if it was channelled back in. They negotiated loans from banks and got on planes. With rucksacks in the hold, they took to the skies without even an address here. They sleep 10 to a dormitory in Kowloon hostels at $50 a night, sometimes sharing with bed bugs. All have been down to their last few dollars. Jane is low in funds but not enthusiasm after the deposit on her flat. Iain described the time he was down to his last hundred. ''I was very low. If I hadn't had previous experience of the Far East, it might have been too much for me. I know how that UK draftsman here who killed himself on the second attempt last week might have felt. I am not one for topping myself but I can sympathise.'' Culture shock is a cliche with a big punch for most. So is the surprise that careers are not lining up for them at the arrivals hall. The emigres come to terms with that quickly. After Britain, they are dazzled by the mere availability of casual work. The girls are snapped up. Jane was offered a job the first day off the plane while sitting in a Lan Kwai Fong bar waiting to meet the owner of the first of the sofas she has slept on. Both are now in the Godown Restaurant where language, history, physiology, aeronautical engineering and animal science graduates circulate round tables. Iain said I would find lots of Brits like him around the Central bars at night. But surely at almost $50 a drink . . .? His face locked in mirth. ''No, behind them!'' Other favourite earners are private school English teaching at casual amah rates and some grubby goings-on in forex at the end of phones. All four are bewitched by the availability of senior management - on the phone and even in person. Smacked by the speed and buzz of Hongkong, Emily and Jane still have streaks of the Milky Way in their eyes, but the chaps, Iain behind the bar at The Portico and Anthony on the phone in the market research office, have had chances to take a longer view of the professional job market. Both conclude that management will listen to intelligently phrased expatriates but, initially, little more. Their main interest is in local Chinese bilingualists who can be trained up. Iain said he had given up with the classifieds altogether. He telephones regularly round employers and contacts in his area of interest. ''I want to stay here. After a few months still being here, somebody will realise I mean business.'' Anthony wants to write screenplays, has no difficulties with the finer points of market research and humps a tome on The Elements of Banking. He is sceptical about management here though. ''It's old-fashioned - they still call themselves 'managing directors'. It is hierarchical not team-based, and would wear bowler hats if the weather permitted. They are probably nervous about your 'FILTH' people because they are so bright. ''The Euroyuppies have grown up in a lean economic background and see middle management being wafted around in overgrown Toyotas as wasteful. They are more interested in how China manages its growth and Asia in general than the state of Legco.'' Jane made this generation of UK graduates who stay at home sound like the lost generations of the Cultural Revolution. ''Even if the economy picks up they'll have nothing on their CVs. They'll be finished in the UK. In the boom '80s you were a fool if you wandered off the career ladder. Now you are a fool if you hang around looking for it.'' Anthony said he was looking for a company not intimidated by brains. ''I have spent years training my mind to be like a Ferrari. I get bored when I have to leave it in the garage.'' Toyota-running managements need not apply.