Speech by Secretary for Education
at the Opening Ceremony of “2014 European Higher Education Fair” on Saturday, 15 March 2014
Mr (Vicent) PIKET, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you here at the opening ceremony of 2014 European Higher Education Fair. May I first congratulate the EU-Consulates General for the successful launch of the exhibition, which portrays a wide panorama of the excellence of EU higher education to our students here in Hong Kong.
We are now witnessing how globalisation has led to a boom in student and faculty mobility. Nowadays, excellent opportunities for study and research emerge beyond national boundaries. According to a report by UNESCO, more than 2.5 million students are now studying outside their home countries. It also expects that the number will leap to 7 million by 2020. Numbers aside, the pattern of student mobility has been shifted by the migration of economic gravity to the East. More and more students are seeking study opportunities in Asia to gain an Eastern perspective and broaden their social network there.
Against this backdrop, the HKSAR Government strives to develop Hong Kong as a regional education hub. We have implemented measures on various fronts in the past few years to internationalise and diversify our post-secondary sector. First, we have doubled our quota on admission of non-local students from 10% to 20% in our public institutions. Second, we have established different scholarships and fellowships to attract top-quality students and scholars around the world. Third, we have relaxed non-local students’ immigration and employment restrictions during their stay in Hong Kong, so that they can do internships and are allowed to stay in Hong Kong for one year after graduation to seek jobs. Our efforts have started to bear fruit, with about 26 600 non-local students coming from over 70 countries or regions pursued post-secondary studies in Hong Kong in the 2012/13 academic year.
We also encourage two-way exchange activities between local institutions and their overseas counterparts as part of our internationalisation endeavours. In fact, one out of four undergraduate students in Hong Kong has the opportunity to go on exchange during their study. Undeniably, student exchange constitutes an important pillar of student mobility and also helps expose our local students to a cultural diversity during their university lives. For students who want to spend a semester or so in countries with strong historical and cultural background, Europe is definitely a right choice for them, and I am sure they can get loads of tips for planning their exchange after touring this fair. We are also happy to know that about 1,600 students from EU member countries came to Hong Kong and about 1,800 Hong Kong students went to EU on exchange last year.
“Support the Needy, Let Youth Flourish, and Unleash Hong Kong’s Potential” is the theme of the Chief Executive’s Policy Address this year. To broaden our students’ horizons and nurture a strong cadre of talents to propel Hong Kong’s future development, we will support about 9 800 students in need to participate in exchange programmes outside Hong Kong. We will also launch a new scholarship scheme to support up to 100 outstanding local students each year to pursue studies in renowned universities outside Hong Kong. We believe that EU would definitely be a popular destination among beneficiaries of the two initiatives.
We are also excited to learn about the expansion of the Erasmus Mundus Programme, which aims to enhance quality in higher education through scholarships and academic cooperation between Europe and the rest of the world. No doubt it will foster student mobility between Hong Kong and EU in the long run.
Finally, I wish the 2014 European Higher Education Fair every success.