People should thinking about self-funded PhDs in Hong Kong universities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 10:34pm

Thousands of young people in Hong Kong self-fund master’s degrees in local universities. People often do this to get a promotion, but such promotion is not guaranteed.

Why not then self-fund a PhD or an MPhil? A PhD is a higher-level qualification. It may well offer the same promotion prospects. Moreover, it also offers new career opportunities.

For example, if you choose a Hong Kong-related topic, it might lead, for example, to a research job. More private firms require data mining and quantitative skills. You also get three or four years to work on something you could become a world authority on.

People say it takes too long. Well, an MA can be completed in two years part-time, a PhD can be done in four years. They say it’s too expensive. An MA costs over HK$100,000 while a part-time PhD can cost about HK$63,000 a year. You keep your day job and meet your supervisor when you have work to discuss.

Another popular myth is that doing a PhD in Hong Kong is worthless, and the only place to get one is in the US or the UK. There are many academics in Hong Kong with PhDs from abroad who have had to leave those countries.

People with local PhDs stand as good a chance as anyone else when it comes to getting in local universities. It depends on what you do with your doctorate.

Another popular belief is that you don’t do a PhD in Hong Kong unless you get funding. I have never met a person who is self-funding a PhD in Hong Kong.

I find this incredible in a city that values education so highly. In the UK, the US or Ireland, it’s difficult to find a PhD student who is not self-funded.

Hong Kong sends hundreds of young people abroad to do PhDs every year.

In the UK they spend £17,000 (HK$162,700) on fees alone. I meet them during the holidays and I can see how much they are missing Hong Kong.

Hundreds of people apply for PhD and MPhil degrees every year in Hong Kong, but the vast majority are disappointed because they only consider taking up the degree if they get funding. Isn’t it time to consider self-funding MPhil or PhD degrees in Hong Kong?

Michael O’Sullivan, Sai Kung