Post-Secondary Education: Overview

Hong Kong provides multiple and flexible pathways for local students to pursue post-secondary education.


Publicly-funded Programmes


There are eight universities funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC), which provide 15 000 first-year first-degree places and

5 000 senior year undergraduate intake places per annum from the 2018/19 academic year and onward, including:



As one of the world’s most competitive cities, Hong Kong is home to some of Asia Pacific’s very best universities in terms of their teaching and research achievements. According to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2020, among the eight universities funded by the UGC, five universities, namely HKU, HKUST, CUHK, CityU and PolyU are ranked top 100 in the world.


As these universities admit students at their own discretion, prospective students may refer to the institution websites for admission requirements. For students with Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) results, they may apply through the Joint University Programmes Admission System (JUPAS). The Government also provides financial assistance to qualified students in need through the Student Finance Office (SFO). Outstanding local and non-local students can also be awarded scholarships through the HKSAR Government Scholarship Fund.


Three of these UGC-funded universities, namely CityU, EdUHK and PolyU, as well as the Vocational Training Council, also provide a number of publicly-funded sub-degree programmes.


Self-financing Local Programmes


To provide more opportunities to young people access to post-secondary education, the number of sub-degree level and above programmes offered by self-financing institutions has increased significantly.


Please refer to the Information Portal for Accredited Post-secondary Programmes (iPASS) for programmes of full-time sub-degree, bachelor’s degree and top-up degree programmes not covered by JUPAS. 


The Government has been making great effort to promote the development of the self-financing post-secondary sector through a basket of support measures including land grant at nominal premium, interest-free start-up loans, a HK$3.52 billion Self-financing Post-secondary Education Fund to provide scholarships and support quality enhancement efforts of institutions; inject HK$3 billion into the Research Endowment Fund for self-financing tertiary institutions to engage in research; and student finances.


Performing Arts Programmes


The publicly-funded Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts offers programmes from Diploma to Master Degree level in dance, drama, film and television, music, theatre and entertainment arts as well as Chinese traditional theatre.


Continuous Learning Programmes


Lifelong learning is gaining popularity as more and more people seek to upgrade their academic qualifications in pursuit of better career prospects or personal interest. The Government has summarised a full list of non-local courses registered or exempted under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap. 493) and provides the information for course providers as well as advice for students when enrolling in these course.


Academic Research


The Government encourages academic research in the higher education sector. It provides research funding to the University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities annually. The UGC-funded universities receive recurring funding through block grants and earmarked research grants approved by the Research Grant Council (RGC), on a competitive basis. For details of the various funding schemes administered by RGC, visit:

The Research Endowment Fund (REF) was established in 2009 with an original endowment of HK$18 billion.  In 2012, we injected a further HK$5 billion into the REF to provide additional research resources to the higher education sector, of which HK$3 billion is provided to support research projects of self-financing degree-awarding institutions.  A further injection of $3 billion was made in 2018 into the REF to generate investment income for providing tuition waiver for local students enrolled in UGC-funded research postgraduate programmes. In June 2019, the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved the proposed injection of $20 billion into the REF to substantially increase and provide sustainable research funding to the higher education sector with a view to fostering the scientific research ecosystem in Hong Kong.


The REF supports theme-based research which benefits the long-term development of Hong Kong. Such themes identified for the UGC-funded universities to work on include promoting good health, developing a sustainable environment, enhancing Hong Kong’s strategic position as a regional and international business centre and advancing emerging research and innovations important to Hong Kong. The REF is administered by the RGC.


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