Study in Hong Kong | Top Universities

Celebrated for its fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, traditional elements and modern competitiveness, Hong Kong has established itself as one of Asia’s dominant economic powers – and is also emerging as one of the region’s leading study destinations. With five universities in Hong Kong (SAR) ranked within the global top 50 and another three in the top 300 of the QS World University Rankings®, this dynamic and diverse city-state boasts one of the world’s most impressive concentrations of internationally ranked institutions – a significant factor behind its inclusion among the world’s top 15 cities for students.

Read on to find out more about Hong Kong has to offer…

Why study in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, traditional Chinese culture and architecture exist alongside an iconic skyline of modern skyscrapers, visible reminders of Hong Kong’s status as a world-leading hub for commerce, finance, trade and logistics. Hong Kong also harbors ambitions of becoming a regional, and indeed global, hub for higher education, and is investing in schemes aimed at increasing international student enrolments, diversifying the tertiary sector and nurturing its already strong culture of research and innovation.

Many universities in Hong Kong already boast the kind of reputation needed to attract students and scholars from around the world. On top of this are the various attractions of life in Hong Kong – a multicultural and outward-looking society offering some of the most diversified experiences you could hope to access in such a compact space – and the wide use of English both within higher education and in daily interactions, to make Hong Kong an appealing choice for many prospective students seeking a relatively accessible Asian destination. That said, anyone planning to study in Hong Kong should definitely allow for a period of transition. Life in this fast-paced, action-packed metropolis is likely to feel like something of a whirlwind experience to begin with.


Universities in Hong Kong

Uni of HK

There are almost 20 degree-awarding higher education institutions in Hong Kong, of which eight are publicly funded. All eight public universities in Hong Kong use English

as the medium of instruction for the majority of courses, and all are well-known and respected well beyond the locality.

In the QS World University Rankings® 2021, Hong Kong’s highest entry is the University of Hong Kong at 22nd place, which continues to rank ahead of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), which is ranked joint 27th. The Chinese University of Hong Kong is also not far behind at 43rd.

The City University of Hong Kong also places within the top 100 at 48th, while the Hong Kong Polytechnic University is ranked 75th.

In the 2021 edition of the QS Asia University Rankings, Hong Kong claims two representatives among the 10 top universities in Asia alone, led by the University of Hong Kong in fourth place, while the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is eighth.

Looking at the QS World University Rankings by Subject, you can see universities in Hong Kong are often world-leading in technical and engineering subjects. The University of Hong Kong, for example, is ranked internationally for 37 out of 48 subjects, placing within the world’s top 50 for a large amount of these. It comes first in the world for dentistry, seventh for education & training and 11th for civil & structural engineering.

HKUST meanwhile places within the world’s top 50 schools for a variety of subjects including computer science, business and management, accounting and finance, civil and structural engineering, statistics, electrical engineering, economics, chemistry, chemical engineering, materials sciences, mechanical engineering and mathematics.

Find the top universities in Hong Kong for your subject

Life in Hong Kong

Life in HK

Since governance of Hong Kong was handed over from the UK to China in 1997, the city has held the status of a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. It has its own government, currency and legal system, and social norms are often different to those of the mainland – “one country, two systems”, as the saying goes.

For many incoming students, Hong Kong appeals as a base from which to explore both traditional and modern-day Chinese culture, either by travelling more widely or through daily opportunities to explore Chinese architecture and traditions, sample local cuisines, learn the language and get to know both native Hong Kongers and those who’ve relocated from the mainland.

But of course Hong Kong is not just an entry-point from which to peep into China; it’s also an exciting and diverse place to live in its own right. This is, after all, one of the four ‘Asian Tigers’; having experienced dramatic growth over the past half-century, Hong Kong is now one of the world’s leading knowledge-based economies. You may even consider staying on to work here after graduation, launching your career in the city’s thriving financial and professional services sector, or perhaps finding a role in its busy retail or import-export markets.

As one of the most densely populated areas in the world, it’s impossible to describe life in Hong Kong without reference to the crowds, packed streets and highly competitive (and priced) fight for accommodation. However, there are also more positive aspects to the city’s compact geography, which, combined with an efficient and relatively inexpensive public transport system, means it’s easy to get around and to experience many widely varied aspects of life in Hong Kong in a short space of time.

You might pop out to explore some traditional markets in between studies, pausing to window-shop at a few flagship designer stores on your way back. Perhaps you’ll rise early to join in some tai chi on the waterfront, or stay out all night at one of the city’s famous clubs. Or maybe you’ll enjoy some downtime by taking a short boat trip to one of the nearby islands, where beaches and mountains offer a calming contrast to the non-stop urban bustle of the city center.

See where Hong Kong ranked in the QS Best Student Cities

Applying to universities in Hong Kong

Applying to Uni in HK

The academic year in Hong Kong is made up of two semesters, one from early September to late December, and a second from mid-January to May. Hong Kong’s university application deadlines vary, but are usually between December and May, for courses starting the following September.

Applicants for undergraduate degrees will be expected to have completed secondary education and gained satisfactory results in their country’s leaving exams (such as A-levels, Baccalaureate or SATs). Public universities in Hong Kong teach in English, and proof of proficiency in English is also required for non-native speakers; this means taking an exam such as the IELTS or TOEFL.

Once you’ve been offered a place, the university should arrange a local sponsor for your visa application. You’ll have to submit a visa application form, as well as providing proof of identity, evidence of your academic qualifications and a financial statement (either of your own finances or those of someone who is supporting you).

The Immigration Department is also likely to request details of where you intend to live while you study in Hong Kong, so it’s best to arrange this well in advance, either through the university or independently. Most visas need to be renewed annually; remember to do this in good time (at least four weeks before the expiry date).

Tuition fees, living expenses & funding

Tuition fees, living expenses & funding

Tuition fees in Hong Kong vary depending on the course and the university. As of May 2014, the government website estimates international tuition fees for most courses to be between HK$90,000 and HK$265,000 per year (approx. US$11,500 to 33,840). Another major cost is accommodation. The government guidance here is to allow HK$15,000 to 45,000 per year (US$1,900 to 5,750) if planning to stay in a university-owned student hostel, or HK$96,000 to 180,000 (US$12,260 to 23,000) for a privately rented one-bedroom flat. Additional living expenses are estimated at around HK$50,000 (US$6,400) per year.

Universities in Hong Kong are generally very keen to attract international students, and often offer scholarships to help support the most talented overseas applicants. Scholarships for international students are also offered by the Hong Kong government. Major government-funded schemes include:

International students planning to study in Hong Kong should also be aware that there are restrictions on the types of part-time work they can take up; however, study-related internships, part-time jobs on campus and summer vacation work are generally fine. When your visa is approved you should receive a ‘No Objection Letter’ detailing the types of employment you can apply for while you study in Hong Kong.

See how universities in Hong Kong compare to other Asian universities

Fast Facts

  • Currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$)
  • One of the most densely populated places in the world, with an area of 1,098 sq km and a population of more than seven million
  • Tuition fees start at HK$90,000 (~US$11,500)
  • Since 1997, Hong Kong has existed under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy – officially part of China, but with its own government and currency.
  • Both Cantonese and English are widely spoken, and both are recognized as official languages.
  • Hong Kong’s name means ‘fragrant harbor’.
  • Although international students can generally not work during their studies, exceptions are made for internships, summer jobs and on-campus work.
  • Hong Kong’s International Commerce Centre is the fourth tallest building in the world, at 484m (1,588ft)
  • Ranked as the most expensive city worldwide for expatriates in Mercer’s 2018 Cost of Living Index
  • Ranked the world’s freest economy in the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, having now topped this ranking for the 24thconsecutive year
  • As of 2011, services accounted for 93 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP, with key service sectors including import/export, wholesale and retail, public administration, finance and insurance, real estate, and professional and business services
  • About 92 percent of the population are of Chinese origin; the next largest groups are from Indonesia, the Philippines and the US.
  • Hong Kong has the highest number of skyscrapers in the world.
  • Time zone is UTC+8.