The number of Hong Kong students enrolling to study overseas is rising steadily, spurred by concerns about the new curriculum that takes effect this year and, in some cases, by a side effect of the financial crisis. A survey shows the number of Hong Kong students in the United States rose more than 7 per cent last year from a year earlier, while an agency in Britain says the number there is up almost 5 per cent this year. In Hong Kong, consultants say parents and students are worried about the 3+3+4 curriculum - three years at junior high school, three at senior high and four at university. But the British Council says the steep decline in the value of the pound since the start of the financial crisis last year is also a factor. Jacky Cheng Ming-hoi, of the AAS Education Consultancy in Hong Kong, said he had received 20 to 30 per cent more inquiries this year than last and applications had risen 5 to 10 per cent. 'Students currently studying in Form Four will be the first batch under the 3+3+4 system. Many parents are worried it will not work. Those who are better off will consider sending them overseas,' he said. 'Some in Form Five may worry that their prospects of further education would be more restricted if they cannot get good results next year, so many of them have also started to explore education options overseas.' Richard Sy Yuk-tsan, a parent of a Form Three pupil, said he had been thinking about sending his child to Britain because of curriculum concerns but decided not to. 'My son said he felt he was being treated like a guinea pig under the new 3+3+4 system,' he said. 'But then he said that as long as he had the knowledge and the skills, it did not matter what.' An annual survey by the Institute of International Education, an independent organisation that promotes education services in the US, found the number of Hong Kong students there rose 7.3 per cent to 8,286 last year from 7,722 students a year earlier, the highest since 1998-99. The institute's senior education adviser, Michelle Mak, said more Hong Kong students were seeking advice and information from it this year, and the number studying in US community colleges as a springboard to university was also rising. The British Council said the number of Hong Kong students studying in Britain had jumped 3 per cent from 16,570 students in 2006-07 to 17,067 in 2007-08. British Council Hong Kong education director Katherine Forestier said the declining value of the pound contributed to the rise and she expected the trend to continue at all levels in the coming year. Her view was supported by numbers from the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, which manages applications to higher education courses in Britain. These showed the number of Hong Kong students admitted to British schools and universities in 2008-09 rose 4.6 per cent. Hong Kong Parents Association chairman Lee Suk-bing said the 3+3+4 system was not proven nor was it widely recognised elsewhere. She said parents were worried that the new curriculum would affect their children's progress, so some decided to send them overseas. But principals said they had not seen an exodus. Diocesan Boy's School headmaster Terence Chang said an average of 20 to 30 pupils left each year to study overseas, and that had not changed much this year.