Scholars' secret of success

What is the lure of Oxbridge and how does one get in? I posed these questions to top Hong Kong students on full Jardine Foundation scholarships that have enabled them to study at Oxford and Cambridge universities in the United Kingdom.

While many students are attracted by the reputation of the universities or their academic atmosphere, Rebecca Cheng Yat-man, 19, wanted to study at Oxford for a different reason. She had heard from classmates at her secondary school that Oxford was elite and posh, full of lords and ladies. She wanted to see for herself what the place was like.

Wanting to go to Oxbridge is one thing; getting in is another. Cambridge University student Chris Ko Yuen-ting, 19, is grateful to her Secondary Six physics teacher for sparking her interest in the subject. Being enthusiastic is vital.

But apart from keenness, good grades and participation in extra-curricular activities are a 'must' for Oxbridge students. But as most candidates have no trouble fulfilling these requirements, it means performing well at the interviews is crucial.

'Watch the Discovery Channel!' is 18-year-old Jonathan Allcock's advice.

The night before Jonathan's natural sciences interview for Cambridge, he happened to watch a Discovery Channel programme on evolution and the sabretooth tiger. By coincidence, he was asked about evolution in his interview, and was able to speak at length about the extinct animal.

As for the Jardine scholarships, each student faces a panel of no fewer than eight interviewers. Cambridge's Diane Mak Dan, 19, said that the ability to switch between topics quickly was very important.

So what do the 2002 Jardine scholars want to achieve during their time at university? 'Firsts!' Michi Wong Mei-chi, 18, and Yuen-ting said. 'Then I won't look back and wish I had worked harder,' Jonathan added. 'Or played harder,' Yuen-ting said with a laugh.

For details about the Jardine scholarship, visit

Queenie is a former Jardine scholarship recipient