QUEENIE YIP PIK-SUN had been thinking about furthering her studies overseas for several years. The only thing stopping the Hong Kong Baptist University graduate was finance. 'I had been thinking about going abroad for many years, but I didn't have enough money,' she said. 'Then a friend told me about the Chevening Scholarships programme. I went right home, checked it out on the internet and decided to apply.' With a bachelor's degree in communications and nearly five years of experience working in the media and communications field, Ms Yip filled out the forms, submitted letters of recommendation and kept her fingers crossed. To her surprise, she was selected as winner of the Sir SY Chung University of Sheffield Chevening Scholarship for the 2004-05 academic year, pursuing a master's in broadcast journalism. Upon her return to Hong Kong, she had two job offers - one from her former employer and one from TVB as a financial reporter. She accepted the TVB job to expand her range of experience. Ms Yip is one of 430 people in Hong Kong to have received awards from the British Consulate-General to study in Britain since the Chevening Scholarships programme was launched here in 1997. The scholarships are part of a global programme funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. About 2,400 scholarships are awarded each year to outstanding young professionals. In response to the British prime minister's initiative, Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing made a generous contribution through his company Hutchison Whampoa to the Chevening Scholarships scheme in the mainland and Hong Kong. Mr Li's initiative created 60 full scholarships within these two jurisdictions over a four-year period, which ended last year. Another contribution will be forthcoming. 'We are pleased that Hutchison will continue with their sponsorship in the coming year,' said Helen Houng, scholarships and educational exchanges officer at the British Council. 'As a result, in combination with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office co-funding, 35 full scholarships will be granted in the 2007-08 scheme, 22 British Chevening Scholarships plus 13 Hutchison Chevening Scholarships.' Kitty Kong Sin-ying graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a bachelor's degree in cognitive science in 2003. She then started teaching drama on a freelance basis. She decided to apply for a Chevening Scholarship to further her studies in Britain. After being accepted, she pursued an MA in theatre and drama education at the University of Warwick, graduating one year later. She now works full time for the Shakespeare Four All Drama Club in Hong Kong, which offers drama lessons at mostly Chinese medium primary and secondary schools. 'We go into the schools and teach Shakespearean plays to the students,' Ms Kong said. 'We then help them put on performances at the end of the school year and also put on a gala citywide performance at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui.' A winner of the Hutchison Whampoa Chevening Cambridge Scholarship for the 2004-05 academic year, Alfred Cheng Chung-ping, who also graduated from the University of Hong Kong, pursued a Master of Laws at the University of Cambridge. 'The teaching approach at Cambridge was more interactive than at HKU, which still takes a somewhat 'spoon feed' approach,' he said. 'I can't speak for all British universities, but Cambridge offered students more freedom to challenge themselves. 'If you have the motivation to learn you will be more challenged at Cambridge than at HKU.' While Ms Yip, Ms Kong and Mr Cheng pursued completely different courses, they all agreed on one thing. One of the highlights of their time in Britain was making friends with students from around the world. 'Not only did I have to keep up with my academic studies,' Mr Cheng said. 'At the same time I had to develop my logical thinking and social skills, as I came into contact with so many students from all over the world. It was a very good place to be.'