Updated 4 months ago

A dynamic, international city and meeting point for different cultures, Hong Kong is also one of the world’s leading financial centres and most diverse study destination. Cosmopolitan and a fusion of many cultures, it is also a shopper’s paradise and has great international cuisine, colourful nightlife, and vibrant festivals and fairs.

Why study in Hong Kong?

Academic powerhouse

Hong Kong is an education hub of high performing universities and world-class research – the QS World University Ranking 2016 listed seven Hong Kong universities, four of which rank among the top 55 worldwide! It has a large and diverse student community that includes nearly 30% international students, many of whom come from mainland China. QS Best Student Cities ranked Hong Kong in 11th place in 2016.

East meets West

Besides its strength in higher education, the mix of Eastern culture and Western influences as a British territory for over 150 years certainly attracts attention – next to the skyscrapers you´ll find ancient Chinese architecture. Moreover, mainland China is easily accessible from Hong Kong.

The teaching language


Hong Kong universities offer a wide range of studies in English, and short courses in Mandarin are available. You’ll need to comply with the university’s English language requirements as part of the application process. Some universities may require a second language qualification. There are usually several ways on how to do this, and you will need to check with your chosen university:

  • Take a language proficiency test such as IELTS or TOEFL. Check in advance which certificates are eligible at the university of your choice. To get the best chance of acceptance, you will need high scores.

  • Provide proof of previous qualification to confirm your level of English or that you meet possible English language exemptions.

Leading Hong Kong universities

University of Hong Kong (HKU), informally known as Hong Kong University, it is Hong Kong’s oldest university with over 100 years of history. Today it ranks amongst the top comprehensive research-led universities worldwide – following the QS University Ranking it was placed in 27th worldwide and 2nd in Asia.

It is home to an international community of students and staff including 30,000 students, of which 9,000 are from well over 100 countries, and some of the best professors in the world. 111 professors rank in the top 1% of scientists globally, and 60% of HKU professors are from outside Hong Kong. You’ll get the chance to learn from some of the world’s top scholars, which also reflects itself in the high student employment rates of over 99%! Six of HKU’s subjects are placed among the top 10 worldwide, with the dentistry program ranking first worldwide for two years in a row. HKU is also renowned for its strength in accounting and finance, biomedicine, humanities, education, law, linguistics, and political & social science.

There are 10 faculties, covering 70 major areas of study, with English as the teaching language and an international focus from an Asian perspective. The vibrant and modern campus maintains exceptional academic standards, pioneering research and collaborations with more than 340 leading universities in 43 countries. With HKU as your base, you’ll get to go to universities like Cambridge, MIT, or Harvard, as they offer numerous opportunities for student exchange programs, undergraduate research programs, service learning projects, field trips, or internships. If this catches your interest, check out the HKU website for admissions.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)

Established in 1991, HKUST is a young and ambitious elite research university, located in Clear Water Bay peninsula. It offers degrees in science, engineering, technology, business and management studies as well as the humanities and social sciences. It is home to 14,000 students spanning more than 70 countries over five continents including 38% international students. HKUST maintains partnerships with 250 universities worldwide and is renowned for cutting-edge research and attracting distinguished academics and influential thinkers. In 2016, it raised $578.4 (in HK $M) new funding for research.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology receives international plaudits, reaping numerous honours and accolades: in 2016, HKUST ranked 36th worldwide, 4th in Asia and no. 2 in the world’s top 50 Universities Under 50 by QS. The School of Engineering placed 14th among the world’s top 200 computer science and information system universities in 2016, and its Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA (EMBA) program topped the Financial Times EMBA global rankings for seven times in the past ten years. At HKUST there are 38 faculty members who are Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), six Chinese Academy of Sciences academicians and nine faculty members also are entered in the National Science and Technology Programs Expert Database.

Don’t hesitate to find out more directly on the university's website

Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

CUK is more than five decades old and is home to one of the largest and most scenic campuses in Hong Kong, with modern learning facilities based on a collegiate system, as well as cultural, sport, and social amenities. There are nine colleges with non-formal learning opportunities, offering some 74 major and 71 minor programs across 8 faculties and 58 schools/departments. It is home to 18,000 students including 27% international students from over 40 countries.

Through its geographical location, traditions and ties, the CUHK excels in the study of Chinese language, culture, economics but also in other specialities such as engineering (electronic, information, automation, etc.). Its Business School, Law School, and Medical School are renowned training grounds and research centres. Research priorities are China studies, translational medicine, information and automation technology as well as environment and sustainability. For example, it is a world leader in non-invasive prenatal testing theory and method, biotechnological improvement of rice strains, and network coding theory that revolutionized data transmission and network applications. It is associated with four Nobel laureates and is also Hong Kong’s only university with recipients of the Nobel Prize, Fields medal, Turing Award and Veblen Prize. Following the QS University Rankings, it placed among the top 50 worldwide. You can find out more regarding admissions at the CUHK website.

City University of Hong Kong (also known as CityU)

Established in 1984 as City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, CityU gained full university status in 1994, located in the Kowloon area. To date, it is a leading global teaching and research university with more than 10,000 students including 30% international students. 

Its three colleges and four schools offer degrees in business, law, science and engineering, energy and environment, creative media and social sciences, also maintaining a strong reputation for sports. It is associated with 38 research centres and offers dual degree programmes with renowned international universities, for example, Columbia University.

CityU ranked 55th in the QS World University Rankings in 2016, with the College of Business particularly doing well for their cutting-edge research. Check out the CityU website.

Besides these four top universities, three more Hong Kong institutions feature in the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong Baptist University and Lingnan University.

Entry conditions

International applicants should have completed twelve years of general education and hold a recognized secondary (high school) qualification such as A-levels or equivalent, and a minimum level of English proficiency. Second language qualifications may be needed, for example at HKU. Individual degrees may require subject background or higher entry prerequisites, ability tests, minimum entry marks or grades. As selection procedures and requirements depend on the university and programme of study, it is best to check with the university of your choice. Generally, the applicant’s educational background and academic achievements are considered – and in case you’ll be invited to attend an interview, your performance will also be taken into account.

You’ll need to apply for a student visa, which normally takes six to eight weeks or even longer to process, so it’s best to get started as soon as possible. Once accepted by the university of your choice, it may act as a local sponsor and will usually guide you through the process. Check with the Hong Kong embassy in your home country and the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

After you have provided the required documents and the application form online (ID995A) and the student visa has been granted, the university will forward the self-adhesive visa/entry permit label on your behalf to affix it into your passport. It will be validated upon your arrival in Hong Kong. When presenting it to immigration officials at the checkpoint, you will receive a landing slip, which acts as proof of your stay in Hong Kong.

Exchange programs and scholarships

Most universities offer specific scholarships, residence grants or caring student grants – it’s best to check with the university of your choice.

The HKSAR Government, a number of public or private organisations, and post-secondary institutions help non-local students to finance their studies. Some scholarships are solely available for international students while others are offered on a competitive basis indifferent to residency status or nationality. Check out the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Scholarship, the Self-financing Post-Secondary Education Fund or the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme.

Living in Hong Kong

Cost of living

The average cost of living is estimated to be around HK$45,000 per student for 10 months including meals, study expenses such as books, transport and laundry etc. – that’s excluding tuition and accommodation fees. Rent is known to be exorbitantly costly, however general expenses for eating out and transport remain low. Tuition fees for international students are somewhere in the mid-range, less than in the US but tend to be higher than in France.

Students can take up part-time work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week, or summer jobs regardless of hours or location. Student visa holders in degree studies of longer than one year can also take on short-term internships.

Student housing

Most universities guarantee student accommodation in a single or shared room, some of which may be off campus. On-campus accommodation in student residence or student hostels is the cheapest option with fees ranging from HK$ 5,600 – 15,000 per semester; while off-campus accommodation tends to be much more pricy starting at HK$ 10,000 a month, excluding charges. Demand for student hostels is huge and you’re advised to apply early if you wish to live on-campus.

What to do

Hong Kong students know how to have fun – be it karaoke, hanging out with friends in hot-pot restaurants and bars, or going for a hike. It may be hard to believe but Hong Kong has plenty of national parks for outdoor adventures, such as hiking, cycling, and rock climbing. Excellent public transport makes it easy to access, even the more traditional markets and lifestyles outside the city.

There are many festivals all year round with lion and dragon dances, carnivals, parades and fireworks. Chinese New Year is one of the biggest festivals in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s location is an excellent base from which to discover mainland China (which is just a short train ride away) as well as much of East Asia.

Local meals you should taste at least once 


The wonderful world of Cantonese cuisine and full choice of Asian and western food will make your trip worthwhile – cheap yet good quality food with all its delicious dim sums, fresh seafood, wanton noodles, roast meats, congees, etc… check out the Hong Kong cafes known as Cha Chaan Teng; they sell almost everything from congee, curry, steak, toast, instant noodles, barbecued meat to desserts.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.