Hong Kong's schools underwent a major overhaul.

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When you think of education in China, do you imagine groups of glasses-clad youngsters copying thousands of characters, learning by rote?

That's ancient China! We're in Hong Kong, remember? While rote learning was popular in the past, modern Hong Kong has embraced critical thinking and creativity in education. Recent reforms have brought Hong Kong's curriculum into line with international standards to turn out well-rounded, capable students. From 2000 to 2006, Hong Kong's schools underwent a major overhaul in curriculum, methods of assessment, and language instruction. Student-focused changes moved away from exam-centered study toward whole-person development, namely Moral and Civil Education, Intellectual Development, Community Service, Physical and Aesthetic Development, and Career-Related Experience.
There are four types of local schools following Hong Kong's curriculum. The Government runs a small number of schools; many others are subsidized institutions run by charitable and religious organizations. Private, usually Christian schools are known for their rigorous academic standards. Most do not receive government funding, but under the Direct Subsidy scheme, private schools may be given financial support for good performance. Additionally, various International Schools cater to the children of the elite and expatriates. Many follow the International Baccalaureate program.

The education structure in Hong Kong was established during colonial rule, and mirrors that of the United Kingdom. Students attend three optional years of Kindergarten (usually starting at age 3), six years of primary school (grades P.1 - P.6) junior and senior secondary school (Form 1, 2, 3 and Form 4 and 5). Primary through junior secondary education is compulsory. Students who intend to pursue a university degree enroll in an additional two years of secondary school, or Matriculation (Form 6 and 7). Most universities offer three-year programs to obtain a Bachelor's degree. This is due to change soon - by 2012, the system will be internationalized, consisting of three years of Junior Secondary, three of Senior Secondary, and a four-year normative undergraduate degree.

Education reform hasn't eliminated the examination culture in Hong Kong; many still regard testing as a necessary component of one's academic life. In Primary 5 and Primary 6, Form 5, and Form 7, most local students take territory-wide examinations to determine placement in upper levels of education. There are three "Bands" of local schools, with Band 1 being the highest, accepting the most academically gifted students. Form 5 students take the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) for placement in Matriculation programs. After Form 7, the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (A-Level) serves as a final benchmark for admission to University. International School students, however, normally take the exams used by the school's respective sponsor countries.

As for Higher Education, there are eight government-funded, internationally-recognized universities in Hong Kong which offer Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees. They and other institutions also offer post-secondary diplomas, certificates, and vocational training. The Hong Kong government has been steadily increasing opportunities for further study, and 66% of Hong Kong students now pursue some form of post-secondary education.

Universities in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is home to eight government-funded universities offering dozens of major areas of study. You'll be happy to know that all of them use English as medium of instruction for most of their courses. Many offer crash courses in Chinese language so that foreign students can make the most of their stay. Certain institutions also conduct some courses in Putonghua for Mainland students, or for those who are proficient in the language.

Hong Kong's universities emphasize whole-person development, meaning you'll be given a broad perspective on life, culture, and ethics, as well as gaining practical experience to take your academic endeavors beyond the classroom and into the real world.

A stimulating intellectual environment attracts high-caliber professors from around the globe. They and their students are renowned for excellence, including Nobel laureates, prize winners for new technology, literary giants, and linguists. The rest of the world has paid attention - several of our institutions made the top 200 in both Newsweek and the Times Higher Education Supplement's World University Rankings since 2006.

An agreement with Mainland China guarantees the compatibility of Hong Kong and Chinese programs of study. Some universities even allow foreign students to "study abroad" for a year or two in Beijing or Shanghai!

For a respected degree recognized the world over, you can get a Bachelor of Arts, Science, Law, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Journalism, or one of a great many others... and these are just a sampling of what's on offer in Hong Kong!