Face Off: Is studying in Hong Kong better than studying overseas?

  • Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a showdown that does not necessarily reflect their personal viewpoints
  • This week, they discuss whether it is better to get an education in the city, or to study abroad
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Do you want to study abroad? Where would you go? Photo: Shutterstock

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For: Andy Pun, 16, HKFYG Lee Shau Kee College

Spellbound by the experiences of their peers, the idea of studying overseas has recently captured the attention of Hong Kong students.

Tired of the city’s education system, students may resort to studying overseas in hopes of escaping the stress and exams of the city’s curriculum, and many have thought day and night about whether local universities will be sufficient for their higher education. However, studying overseas is simply impractical for your average Hong Kong student.

To begin, the atrocious costs associated with studying at a foreign university are not feasible for many families. Tuition in Hong Kong is much more affordable due to government aid: The government uses taxes to pay a portion of tuition and promote higher education in Hong Kong.

How much does it really cost to study abroad?

All government-subsidised bachelor’s degrees provided by Hong Kong universities, for which most students aim, cost HK$42,100 annually. Provided that most programmes last four years, that adds up to a total of HK$168,400 for a degree.

If a Hong Kong student were to study in Singapore, where they would count as an international student, they would need to pay S137,979 (around HK$796,441) on average – about 4.7 times more than what school in Hong Kong would cost. This price is simply unrealistic for many people.

Another argument for studying abroad is that local universities do not provide an adequate course catalogue, and that there are more options overseas.

The cost of studying abroad can be astronomical. Photo: Shutterstock

Although true to some extent, Hong Kong remains one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. Countless educational institutions in Hong Kong provide alternatives to the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE), ranging from the GCSE (Britain) to the SAT (US). In addition, if you do want the experience of living abroad, there are many exchange programmes available for inquisitive minds. You can also take classes online on sites like Coursera or EdX for a wider variety of content, though these are mainly for fun.

To sum up, studying in Hong Kong is the most sensible choice, especially for higher education, to avoid falling into immense debt, especially since you can study programmes originating from other countries in our city.

If you had a chance to study overseas in the near future, would you do it?

Against: Angela Lam, 13, St Paul’s Co-educational College

Nowadays, more people are choosing to send their children abroad to study. According to Unesco, there are around 36,000 Hong Kong students abroad right now. This emphasises the fact that studying overseas is common for students from our city.

Studying overseas can provide students with a more well-rounded and less stressful education. Hong Kong is a small city full of competition, and students have a never-ending amount of homework to do. I believe that studying abroad can alleviate their stress in regards to their schoolwork and give them a sufficient chance to discover themselves. In addition, an overseas education is comprehensive in the fact that they learn not only from textbooks, but also from other people in a new country. This gives students a happier and more unique learning environment.

Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things about yourself. Photo: Shutterstock

Many students are feeling pessimistic about their future in Hong Kong. The city has been through a lot of turmoil lately, especially during the pandemic, and the economy is not as good as it once was. Many companies are choosing to relocate their headquarters outside Hong Kong, and many businessmen who want to invest in the city have been discouraged from doing so. This will limit job opportunities for students in the future.

In contrast, there is a wider variety of jobs available overseas, and it would be easier to obtain these jobs if they study overseas too.

Help! Everyone around me has money to study overseas, but I don’t

If students do choose to stay in Hong Kong, graduates who studied overseas are more welcomed by employers. Choosing to study abroad shows employers that you have courage, flexibility, and cultural awareness, and shows an understanding of how other people work and think. This will put you at the front of the pack when it comes to internships and job applications.

Another advantage of studying abroad is the chance to immerse yourself in a different environment. This enriching experience will enable you to see and do things you wouldn’t expect and meet people who have grown up in a different culture.

Studying abroad can help you start your career off on the right foot, and it is a rewarding experience that allows you to learn more about the world.

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