Overseas education is often preferred by Hong Kong students wanting to broaden their horizons and experience another culture. Australia usually tops the list when Hongkongers choose their university, mainly due to the world-ranked institutions and proximity of Australian cities to Asia. 'International ranking and reputation are perhaps the most significant factors,' says Anthony Chiu, manager of marketing and client relations at AEC Education Consultancy in Hong Kong. 'Parents and students want to be assured that the quality of teaching and the experiences offered are going to be internationally acknowledged.' 'Australia provides a safe learning environment for students,' says Brett Cunningham, country manager at the University of New South Wales, Hong Kong office. Four Australian cities, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide are ranked in the Economist Intelligence Unit top 10. These cities are measured against 30 indicators from five categories, including stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. 'The University of Melbourne radically changed its programmes in 2008 when it introduced 'The Melbourne Model', which features the flexibility of choice of subjects students can take in their undergraduate programme,' Cunningham says. Students are able to build their degree through taking subjects that will help them in ways such as enhancing their life skills or career prospects. So commerce students can undertake a music subject if they choose to. Furthermore, career prospects are another aspect parents and students consider when choosing a university and academic programme. 'Our history in Hong Kong and our ability to develop job-ready graduates with great leadership capabilities have won us a strong brand reputation in the region,' Cunningham says.