STUDYING OVERSEAS can broaden students' horizons and they can learn much more by experiencing another culture, making new friends and learning another language. Many employers now look favourably on those who have spent time abroad. Undergraduate or postgraduate study in France or Germany are excellent options to consider for students who cannot get into universities in Hong Kong. France and Germany offer interesting architecture, centuries-old cultures, unique cuisines and endless travel possibilities. Both countries are at the crossroads of Europe and are serviced by budget airlines and have excellent rail links. Students who feel they may have a problem learning French or German need not be put off because both countries offer a range of courses taught in English, or in English at the outset with the switch to the host country's language made once the student has had time to settle in. About 500 students from Hong Kong travel to France or Germany each year to take up medium to long courses. Others enrol in courses of three months or less. 'Business and computer studies are two of the most popular subjects for Hong Kong students in Germany,' Michael Paulus, head of the German Academic Exchange Service in Hong Kong, said. 'Recently, music and everything surrounding the performing arts have become very popular. And humanities and the arts are increasingly gaining in popularity,' he said. According to Prashanth Palanimalai, from the French consulate in Hong Kong, some of the most popular subjects among Hong Kong students in France are economics and management, language and literature, human and social sciences, fashion design, and tourism and hotel management. Mr Paulus believed that the popularity of subjects in Germany was a reflection of a breadth of choices unmatched by Hong Kong's universities and higher education establishments. 'There is a really wide selection in Germany,' he said. 'There are more than 300 universities and the universities of applied sciences [the German equivalent of polytechnic universities] are very good, especially in the field of tourism and hotel management. There is also a much bigger range of specialisations than in Hong Kong.' Students who have passed their A-levels in Hong Kong but have very little or no knowledge of the language of the country in which they intend to study can apply for an international degree course in English, or for a mixed language course that will enable them to learn the language without falling behind on their course. Mr Prashanth said: 'There are bilingual courses that start in English and end up in French because the students are also studying French from the outset.' He cited the master's of engineering courses available through n+i ( www.nplusi.com ), a network of more than 60 engineering grandes ecoles (the name given to France's top-level academies). Foreign students begin with a summer intensive course in French language, culture and civilisation, going on to study their first semester of engineering in English - while also continuing with their French linguistic and cultural education. From the second semester, they study alongside their French counterparts and by the following summer they will undertake an internship in a French company. Networks such as n+i have been quick to foster this win-win situation for French enterprises and foreign students. As French companies aim to build business relationships with China and other emerging nations, a grande ecole trained engineer who is a native Chinese speaker (and is often also fluent in English) is seen as a valuable commodity. Of the 209 students n+i welcomed last year, 116 came from China. Meanwhile, more French management schools, driven by demand at home, are offering courses in which the sole medium of instruction is English. Mr Prashanth said: 'Most of the MBAs with rankings are in English. One of the best is Insead. The programme is in English and there is a campus in Singapore as well as the one in Paris.' Mixed-language and English-only courses are widely available in Germany. Mixed-language courses are based on switching from English to German, or involve learning in English and German for the duration of the course. Courses in which the sole medium of instruction is English are particularly dominant at postgraduate level. Engineering, computer studies, media studies, and tourism and hotel management are more likely to have an English-language component at undergraduate level. Studying in English depends on the choice of subject. Knowledge of French is a must if a student's study in France is in a field such as law or political science. Students must pass Level Four the Test of French Knowledge before they can be admitted. In Germany, courses such as literature and history are normally taught in German and students wanting to gain admission to such courses must pass the Test of German as a Foreign Language. Students finding it difficult to choose between France and Germany might like to consider applying to the Franco-German University (UFA), a network of more than 130 higher education establishments in both countries. The UFA aims to promote student exchanges between France and Germany, affording students the chance to enjoy the best of both worlds. Students interested in studying in either France or Germany will find university and course brochures and other information at the Education & Careers Expo 2007 from today until Sunday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.