Vietnamese students choosing Hong Kong for study
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Vietnamese students choosing Hong Kong for study

By Kritika Seksaria

Over the years, Singapore and Australia have established themselves as educational hubs of the Asia Pacific. Students from Asia have been swarming and saturating these countries in order to find a higher level of education than other parts of the continent.

Hong Kong, however, in the recent past has remarkably developed in terms of the standard of higher education. This is a benefit not only to the country itself, but also neighbouring countries, most importantly, Vietnam.

Vietnam’s booming economy acts as a catalyst for young Vietnamese to study outside their country. Since the war, Vietnam has come a long way becoming one of the most lucrative spots for foreign investment and exports.

Moreover, according to the Jakarta Globe, it is the world’s 13th most populous country and enjoys a young demographic, thus indicating the company’s large market and energetic labour force. The article suggests that its third major strength lies in its human capital. The Vietnamese people are known for their keenness to increase their standard of living through hard work, their commitment to education, entrepreneurship and for their willingness to seize opportunities.

Its other major strength is political stability, on which the World Bank ranks it well ahead of its Asian peers, including China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

As it may be evident, Vietnam has overtaken China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines with respect to Internet penetration and the number of students studying in the United States per 100,000 population. An article in the New York Times mentions:

Return of a Diaspora — people who had fled the country during war, has been helpful. Thousands of overseas Vietnamese have come home after learning English, gaining entrepreneurial experience and acquiring technical skills.

According to The Economist, an alternate way to measure progress is urbanisation and the demographic transition. In 2009, 12% of Vietnam’s people lived in cities of more than 1 million residents.


Hong Kong general view. Pic:AP

On the other hand, Hong Kong’s increasing standard in education makes it a viable location for Vietnamese students to pursue higher studies. The medium of education is English and the degrees and qualifications from Hong Kong are recognised worldwide.

A report from Times London states that from 2012, prominent eight universities of the city will switch to four-year degrees. This move is a chance to provide more liberal courses.

Also, the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) has been given a points tariff by the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, which will make it possible for Hong Kong students to enter British universities directly.

Therefore, as the Vietnamese economy rises, simultaneously Hong Kong establishes an international standard in education, as a result making it a convenient yet advantageous option for Vietnamese students.

However, Hong Kong’s educational development is specifically relevant and valuable to the Vietnamese because of the history of people from Vietnam settling in Hong Kong. Thus they have the comfort of a Vietnamese community already established in the city.

Their history dates back to the Vietnam War when victims fled to Hong Kong as refugees and Hong Kong declared itself as the port of first asylum. Large number of refugees kept swarming into the city over the year,s sometimes leading to 300 a day in the late 1980s. After a failed orderly repatriation program, the Hong Kong government had to enforce the forceful repatriation program.

Nevertheless, in the 2000s, the government has decided to widen a local resettlement scheme for Vietnamese refugees to allow 1400 Vietnamese to apply for residency in Hong Kong in order to deal with the residual problems of Vietnamese Refugees and Vietnamese Migrants.

The government also enforces complete integration of refugees and their children born in Hong Kong.


Pic: Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Therefore, besides just the fact the two places are close by, they have a rich history of cultural binding. Having a Vietnamese community in Hong Kong will make students from Vietnam feel more at home while studying and living in Hong Kong.