Winning student William heads for pastures new

Vicky Wong

THE winner of the South China Morning Post 1992 Student of the Year competition was on top form yesterday - with five straight 'A's in his A-level exams.

But like many other students who heard they received straight 'A's, 19-year-old William Woo Chun-fai will be leaving Hongkong to continue his studies overseas.

William will go to Cambridge University in England this autumn to study law, even though he was offered a place at Hongkong University.

The $15,000 Morning Post scholarship he won in December had helped pay for text books for his A-level studies at Wak Yan College in Kowloon, and William said he would use the Cathay Pacific return tickets to Europe which came with the scholarship to travel with his mother this summer.

William took Physics, Chemistry, Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Use of English at A-Level.

He was confident of Hongkong's future and would return here when he had finished his course, but he was determined to continue his studies overseas.

''It is not that I am not happy with local education, but I think it is a good opportunity to go abroad after studying in Hongkong for more than 10 years,'' he said.

''Anyway, I will come back. I am so confident with Hongkong's future and I am sure that political freedom can be achieved.'' But he admitted that his decision on where to pursue his studies was partially influenced by his family background, because his father is a lawyer and his elder sister is now studying law at Oxford University.

William said he hoped to qualify as a solicitor and work in Hongkong to help serve the local community.

One of his heroes is barrister and chairman of the United Democrats Martin Lee Chu-ming QC, and William would not rule out getting involved in politics when he came back to the territory.

A spokesman for the Hongkong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) said students who headed overseas because they thought they would get a better education were mistaken.

''Hongkong provides as good an academic training as anywhere in the world, with the highest quality of teaching,'' said Cheng King, media section head of HKUST's office of public affairs.

''Being the youngest university in Hongkong we are in an even more favourable position for equipment - we have the very latest models of computers and scientific equipment, as good as anywhere in the world.

''The Government here is investing in tertiary education, whereas people in North America and the UK are complaining that their budgets have not increased.

''If students want to go overseas to broaden their mind that is fair enough, but they should not go if they foolishly think they won't get a good education here.''