The mainland and Singapore are becoming popular destinations for Hong Kong secondary school leavers to pursue further education. An overseas education service centre said an increasing number of students are inquiring about application procedures. Students choose to study on the mainland to get better Putonghua speaking skills to prepare for further studies and work, said Monique Or Pui-yee, vice-director of Dadi Overseas Studies Service Centre, which advises and assists students planning to study abroad. Ms Or said school fees were lower in China than many countries. For example, the tuition for a two-year hotel management programme organised by the China Tourism Management Institute in Tianjin is only HK$80,000, including hostel accommodation. After the course, graduates can continue studying for a hotel management degree at the Blue Mountains Hotel School in Australia. Last year, the centre arranged for 10 students to study in China. Major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin were their most popular destinations. Ms Or said more students had chosen to study in Singapore because of its famous education system. 'Some parents appreciate its secondary school courses, which are stricter than in Hong Kong. They believe students can concentrate more on their studies.' The centre offers one-on-one consultation services to students in accordance with their learning abilities, interests, examination results and financial situation. It also assists in applying for student visas, arranging accommodation and co-ordinating with overseas institutions. About 400 to 500 students study overseas through the centre's services every year. 'Students should understand their education needs and the career path they wish to enter before deciding to study abroad as sometimes studying in Hong Kong may be better,' Ms Or said. For instance, she said, if a student wanted to study social work, it is more practical to do a degree here. 'The Hong Kong courses provide placement in local service organisations. Students can acquire richer work experience before registering as social workers.' She admitted that more overseas education institutes offered recognised diploma and degree courses in Hong Kong. 'This accounts for fewer students applying to go abroad,' she said. In order to attract more students, the centre has enlarged its course variety and school networks. 'We try to co-operate with more famous foreign secondary schools and universities to provide students with more options,' Ms Or said.