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Education/Training (EDS) Market in Hong Kong and Macau






Hong Kong Students in the US





Macau Students in the US





Source: Open Doors Report, Institute of International Education 1

With 8,026 Hong Kong students studying in the U.S. during the 2012/13 academic year, Hong Kong ranked as the 17th leading origin of international students in the U.S. Due to Britain’s historical connection with Hong Kong, the U.K. is the leading overseas study destination (25.9 percent), followed by Australia (23.7 percent), with the U.S. in third place (19.6 percent). The breakdown in terms of level of study for Hong Kong students in the U.S. is 73 percent at the undergraduate level and 13 percent at the graduate level. Popular areas of study for Hong Kong students in the U.S. are business and management (27 percent), social sciences (15 percent), fine and applied arts (10 percent), physical and life sciences (6 percent), engineering (7 percent), math and computer science (6 percent), with a range of other subject areas making up the balance of the remaining 29 percent.

Hong Kong’s education system which went through a major overhaul at the start of the 2009/10 academic year, is now more in line with the U.S. system. Under the new academic structure, three years of junior secondary is followed by three years of senior secondary.  This leads to the HKDSE (Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education) exams. Students gain admission to a range of post-secondary, vocational and tertiary courses offered by a variety of institutions based on their examination results.

The number of places available for undergraduate degrees in Hong Kong is substantially less than the number of students who actually fulfill the entry requirements for general admission to university. From the beginning of the academic year in 2012, many courses will be extended to four years, in line with the government’s policy of 3 + 3 + 4 (three years of junior secondary, followed by three years of senior secondary then 4 years of university).  For students who fail to gain entrance to a degree program, the popular option is to attain an Associate Degree or a Higher Diploma, and then proceed with a degree course later on. In fact, many students choose to transfer to an overseas college after completing their Associate Degree/Higher Diploma in Hong Kong.

Many Hong Kong parents employ education agents to advise them on overseas higher education, assist with the search for appropriate schools and to provide other related services. U.S. schools should consider partnering with several agents in Hong Kong who are capable of promoting their schools and recruiting students. Word of mouth is also a significant factor in college choices. A growing number of colleges and universities are increasingly relying on their Hong Kong alumni as an additional channel to reach potential students as well as donors.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

There is an emerging market for 2-year community colleges where tuition and admission requirements (e.g. TOEFL scores) are in general lower than 4-year colleges and universities. Hong Kong students tend to be more interested in community colleges with guaranteed transferable credits to universities.

A number of U.S. education institutions have found success in developing partnerships with local schools to open Hong Kong branch campuses for undergraduate and graduate programs.


U.S. educational institutions are gaining recognition in Hong Kong. Local Chinese parents are beginning to recognize the academic excellence of colleges outside the Ivy League, such as liberal arts colleges, the ‘public Ivies,’ and community colleges. This is the result of an increasing number of American institutions attending Hong Kong education shows and vigorously promoting themselves to Hong Kong schools and students. Ideally, new-to-market schools should try to meet with high school counselors and students face-to-face to gain exposure and raise their profile.

Because of the enormous demand from Mainland Chinese students to study overseas and the typically higher education agent service fees in China, many agents in Hong Kong have established representative offices in South China with the relevant paperwork handled by the support team in Hong Kong. These agents counsel and prepare the students for school selection, visa interviews, housing, etc. Partnering with a Hong Kong agent would have the benefit of covering not only Hong Kong but also the nearby areas of Macau, Guangdong, and South China.

Partnering with local schools in joint degree programs, faculty or student exchange is an effective way to increase visibility and gain recognition. However, these higher education institutes do take into consideration the ranking of the partner school and the uniqueness of the program.

Web Resources


U.S. Higher Education Fair
Dates: October 11, 2014
Venue: JW Marriott Hotel, Pacific Place, Hong Kong
Organizer: Institute of International Education
Tel: (852) 2603-5771
Fax: (852) 2603-5765
Website: http://www.iiehongkong.org

Education & Careers Expo 2015
Dates: February 5-8, 2015 (annual)
Venue: Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center
Organizer: Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Tel: (852) 2240-4325
Fax: (852) 2824-0026
Website: http://www.hktdc.com/hkeducationexpo

Hong Kong International Education Expo
Dates: May & July, 2015 (Exact dates to be confirmed)
Venue: Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center
Organizer: Neway Trade Fairs
Tel: (852) 2561-5566
Fax: (852) 2811-9156
Website: http://www.newayfairs.com


Education Bureau
Email: edbinfo@edb.gov.hk
Website: http://www.edb.gov.hk

U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong
Public Affairs Section – EducationUSA Advisor
EducationUSA Website: http://educationusa.state.gov
Email: hkeducationusa@state.gov

U.S. Commercial Service Hong Kong

For more information, contact our colleague who covers this industry sector:

Contact: Ms. Maria Lo, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2110-8647
Fax: (852) 2845-9800
Email: maria.lo@trade.gov
Website: http://export.gov/hongkong

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