Advantages to be had for Hongkongers choosing to study in mainland China

The mainland’s booming economy and job opportunities has been reflected in significant growth in foreign students. Regrettably, local students have yet to tap into such opportunities

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 12:44am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 12:44am

Studying in China has become increasingly popular for foreigners. The number of overseas students reached more than 397,635 last year, up from 110,800 11 years ago. The rise is hardly surprising, given improvements in the mainland education system and the growing opportunities arising from the rise of the country over the years.

But the idea of studying on the mainland may still be frowned up in Hong Kong. Many locals are still wary of working or studying across the border, despite growing social and economic integration since the handover. The sentiment is further reinforced by rising cross-border tension in social and political spheres in recent years.

That said, there are those who appreciate the advantages of “going north”. According to the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority, 3,526 students applied for universities on the mainland last year, representing about 6 per cent of some 62,200 students taking the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. The figure was only 518 in 2006, accounting for less than 1 per cent of school leavers.

Surge in Hong Kong students applying to mainland universities contrasts sharply with anti-China sentiment

It does not take an education expert to see the merits of studying in China. Some of its universities have gained world recognition. But the real draw remains the country’s booming economy and job opportunities for graduates. This has been reflected in significant growth in foreign students on the mainland. Regrettably, local students have yet to tap into such opportunities.

Our numbers may look insignificant compared to millions of foreign students who have studied on the mainland during the period. But it is nonetheless a positive change in the negative perception towards mainland education.

Over the years, more mainland students have come to pursue higher education and work. What they bring back is not just academic qualification and work experience, but also the values that make Hong Kong a successful international city. The trend for more locals studying across the border can foster mutual understanding, which is in the interest of both sides.