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LCQ7: Entry arrangements for non-local students who wish to enter Hong Kong for study

     Following is a question by the Hon Tommy Cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (May 2):


     The Chief Executive proposed in the 2009-2010 Policy Address to develop six industries, including education services, where Hong Kong enjoys clear advantages.  The objective of the development of education services is to enhance Hong Kong's status as a regional education hub, thus boosting Hong Kong's competitiveness and complementing the future development of the Mainland.  Regarding the complementary measures of the policy on attracting more non-local students to study in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the restrictions on visa/entry permit (visa) applications from mainland secondary students for studying in Hong Kong under the existing immigration policy on entry of non-local students to study in Hong Kong; whether such students can apply for visas to attend summer courses (including preparatory summer courses organised by local universities) in Hong Kong; if they can, of the number of visas approved in the past three years; if not, the reasons for that as well as whether it will consider relaxing the restrictions;

(b) given that at present, the Immigration Department (ImmD) specifies that the entry arrangement regarding application for studying in Hong Kong does not apply to nationals of certain countries/regions (e.g. Korea (Democratic Peoples' Republic of), Cambodia and Vietnam, etc.), whether the Government had received visa applications from such persons in the past three years for studying in Hong Kong; if it had, of the number of applications rejected; whether it will consider relaxing the restriction; if it will, the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) of the number of visa applications received by ImmD in the past three years from non-local students for entering Hong Kong to attend full-time locally-accredited post-secondary short-term courses, as well as the number of applications which had been approved; whether the Government will consider extending the visa arrangement for short-term courses to other courses approved by the Education Bureau; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


     On the development of education services, HKSAR Government's objectives are to enhance the position of Hong Kong as a regional education hub, nurture talents for other industries, attract talents from all over the world, enhance Hong Kong's competitive edge and facilitate the long-term development of Hong Kong, the Pearl River Delta and our nation.  To this end, we have been introducing support measures to attract non-local students to study in Hong Kong.  Over the past five years, the number of non-local students attending publicly-funded programmes has increased significantly by nearly 90% to more than 10,000.  Together with those studying self-financing post-secondary programmes, about 18,000 students from over 70 countries/regions attended post-secondary programmes at tertiary institutions in Hong Kong in the 2010/11 academic year.  My reply to the question raised by Hon Tommy Cheung Yu-yan in seriatim is as follows -

(a) Under the prevailing policy, Mainland secondary school students, accompanied by their teachers, may apply for entry to Hong Kong to attend short-term exchange programmes at secondary school level approved by the Education Bureau with a maximum period of stay of two weeks.  In the past three years, the Immigration Department (ImmD) has not received any application.

     The Chief Executive also mentioned in his 2009-10 Policy Address that the Government will explore the possibility of allowing Mainland senior secondary students to study in Hong Kong (for example, taking short-term courses offered by degree-awarding tertiary institutions in Hong Kong).  We are exploring the feasibility of implementing such arrangements with the Mainland authorities concerned.

(b) According to the prevailing immigration policy, visa application to enter Hong Kong for study does not apply to nationals of Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, Korea (Democratic Peoples' Republic of), Nepal and Vietnam. However, the ImmD would consider special situation of individual applicants from these countries on a case-by-case basis.  In the past three years, the ImmD has received a total of 184 applications to enter Hong Kong for study from nationals of relevant countries; 18 applications were refused in the same period.

     When formulating immigration policy, we will consider all relevant factors, including the social, economic and political situation of the countries and territories concerned, immigration control and security considerations etc., in order to accord facilitation to genuine visitors and overseas talents while maintaining prudent and effective immigration control. The Government reviews the concerned immigration policy from time to time, and makes adjustment as necessary to serve the public interest and meet the needs of Hong Kong.

(c) The ImmD does not maintain the relevant statistics.

     In addition to full-time locally-accredited post-secondary programmes, non-local students (except those from the Mainland, Macao (Note) and Taiwan) may also apply for entry to Hong Kong to attend full-time programmes on the register of non-local higher and professional education courses set up under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap. 493).

     In addition, the Working Group on the Development of Education Services in Hong Kong under the Education Commission submitted a report to the Administration on the development of education services in Hong Kong, making a number of recommendations, including allowing Mainland students to study in non-local courses in Hong Kong, with a view to promoting the development of Hong Kong as a regional education hub and the internationalisation of our post-secondary education sector.  The Administration is considering the recommendations so as to work out the long-term goals and strategies for their implementation.

Note: Former Mainland Chinese residents in Macao who were not settled there on or before January 14, 1979.

Ends/Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:01


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