Educational Internationalization crucial to Hong Kong's succ
Date:2014-12-09 18:18 By:hhstrong Hit: HIT
Hong Kong higher education leaders are to be congratulated for their success in internationalizing our education system.
This is attracting more foreign students to pursue an education in our universities.

A recent survey by QS Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a London-based institution assessment agency, ranks Hong Kong the 5th best place worldwide for foreign students, up from 7th place a year earlier.
The survey measures indicators such as the affordability of tuition fees, personal safety and quality of life. One thing Hong Kong people can be proud of is that this city is relatively safe. People can walk the streets at night without fear.

Kudos forthis goes to the government. The government has relaxed immigration policies to allow non-local students (most of them from mainland) to stay in the city after graduation to look for work. Meanwhile, the portion of non-local students in the eight government-funded universities has increased from 15 percent of the total student population to 18 percent. These policies have now borne fruit.
Hong Kong is ahead of Boston, Tokyo, Montreal, Toronto and Seoul, which are ranked from 6th to 10th, respectively, in the QS ranking of best cities for international students. The best city in the world for foreign students is Paris, which maintains its top spot since the previous survey in 2013.

Educational Internationalization crucial to Hong Kong's success

Hong Kong retains, and continues to improve its competitiveness over mainland cities including Beijing and Shanghai, and Asian counterparts such as Kula Lumpur and Singapore. This is because our city emphasizes an international outlook. Foreign companies are keen to establish themselves here. Hong Kong people are open-minded about their cultures and can speak English in a business setting.
Moreover, the Hong Kong government and educators should encourage local students (perhaps with some incentives) to mingle with international students on Hong Kong university campuses. Young people are well advised to make friends with foreign students to learn more about their cultures. (I teach a master's level course at Hong Kong Baptist University, in which there are two students from Vietnam and India among a class of 20. I always encourage the two foreign students to share their home experiences with other students.)

While it is a good idea to attract more international students to our campuses, it is also forward thinking for the government to finance outstanding students to study overseas. When they return to work in Hong Kong, their international outlook will benefit our workforce and economy. Furthermore, foreign companies like to employ these returning students, as they are familiar with other cultures and politics.
For example, I am sure any local students studying Arabic overseas will find it easy to get jobs when they return to the city. Their language skills will be in great demand.
Under this government scholarship scheme (the first batch of 100 outstanding young men and women will head to top universities overseas in September 2015), the government will provide scholarships of about HK$250,000 a year each, for up to three years.

Scholarship awardees, as a condition of acceptance, have to return to work in the city for two years after graduation. This is reasonable because Hong Kong taxpayers expect their money to be well spent.
The 100 scholarships per year awarded to enable our most outstanding young people to study at universities such as Cambridge, Oxford or Harvard, seems inadequate.
Local tycoons such as Li Ka-shing and Lee Shau-ki have been encouraged to match the government's offer by providing another 100 scholarships, so more of our exceptional young people can study abroad. They will help Hong Kong's economy (and perhaps Li and Lee's companies) when they return to work here following graduation.
The author is a veteran journalist and senior lecturer at Beacon College, a tutorial school.
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