Education and Youth

    Education and Youth | Policy Research Series

    09/04/2023 - 12:00

    Developing Hong Kong into an International Education Hub

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    Our Hong Kong Foundation (OHKF) released its latest policy advocacy report entitled Developing Hong Kong into an International Education Hub. The report emphasises that building an education hub is a key step to grooming future talents for new industry planning in Hong Kong, especially in the midst of a global talent war.

    As Hong Kong faces the challenges of a shrinking labour force and an aging population, it is critical to attract top talents through providing world-class quality education. In fact, countries around the world, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Korea, and Japan, have developed national policies to build its education hub and increase non-local student intake. This does not only increase talent to support countries’ sustainable development but also propel socio-economic growth through tuition and other value-added services. In 2020, education services contributed to a significant portion of GDP in places like Australia (5.2%), the United Kingdom (6.3%), and the United States (5.6%), far higher than that of Hong Kong (1.4%).

    Education policy

    Hong Kong currently has a golden opportunity to position itself as an international education hub. Having five top-100 universities globally, Hong Kong has been an attractive place for students from mainland China and overseas. Even so, admission rates for students from mainland China are only around 5-10% across tertiary programmes offered by University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities and self-financing institutions (SFIs), in some cases even lower. The current geopolitical climate also presents an opportunity to diversify the student sources by targeting top talents from ASEAN and Belt & Road countries.

    Education policy

    To better leverage these opportunities, OHKF proposes the below policy framework with 9 policy recommendations to promote Hong Kong as the study destination of choice for students from all over the world. Students come to Hong Kong primarily to progress their studies, prepare themselves for future work, and gain international exposure. As such, promoting mutual recognition between mainland and Hong Kong qualifications and raising the regulatory cap for non-local students would remove hurdles for articulation, while fostering school-industry partnership with emerging industries and deepening synergies with the GBA would offer students augmented work readiness and international exposure.

    Initiatives to bolster Hong Kong’s attractiveness must be supported by measures to enhance the study experience in Hong Kong. Living conditions, financial hurdles, and job opportunities upon graduation are all critical for talent attraction and retention.

    Education policy

    Collectively, OHKF hopes these measures will boost Hong Kong as a preferred location for non-local students, enhance our status as an international education hub, and ultimately contribute to our sustainable development.


    Preparing for the 21st Century Globally Competitive Workforce—Industry-led Standards of Applied Education and Lifelong Learning.

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    Our Hong Kong Foundation has published its latest Education policy research report, “Preparing for the 21st Century Globally Competitive Workforce—Industry-led Standards of Applied Education and Lifelong Learning.”

    The international competitiveness of Hong Kong’s youth has dwindled in the past few years. Confronted with the dual threats of Industry 4.0 and intensifying regional competition, Hong Kong’s education system must ensure that learners of all backgrounds are able to receive the education they need, in order to secure the city’s leading economic status in the future.

    The IMD World Talent Ranking 2020 outlines that Hong Kong has been remiss in its investment and development of talents; its talent competitiveness ranking dropped from 10th in 2016 to 14th, while during the same period of time, Singapore’s ranking rose from 15th to 9th. This slip in talent competitiveness can be attributed to the discrepancy between human capital output from the education system and the in-demand skills required by employers: a research survey by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries shows that 58% of Hong Kong enterprises currently upgrading and restructuring their operations regard the lack of suitable local talents as their biggest obstacle.

    Education policy

    In order to solve manpower shortages in the newest generation, countries around the world reached a consensus on the need to revamp their education systems; for instance, China’s "Outline of the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035" has summarised its commitment to invest in human capital, deepen industry school collaborations, and cultivate technically skilled talents.

    In sharp contrast, Hong Kong’s education system has yet to fully support talent development, which hinders the progress of both society and the economy. As countries around the world scramble to bolster lifelong learning and help in-service practitioners upskill and reskill, Hong Kong has yet been unable to change public attitudes regarding continuing education. If Hong Kong is to create a work-study overpass that can integrate academic, applied, and industry qualifications, citizens must no longer view continuing education as merely a hobby.

    Hong Kong’s participation rate in continuing education has stalled at 20%, which is significantly lower than Singapore’s 49%. The Government spends only 0.5% of its total education expenditure on continuing education, which is only one-tenth of that averaged by countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Singapore To support Hong Kong’s sustainable development as a knowledge-based economy and cultivate talents equipped with tomorrow’s skills, our society needs to provide everyone with flexible and versatile continuing education opportunities.

    Education policy

    OHKF hopes to shatter traditional perceptions of and approaches towards education, and explore how to further integrate academia and employers, build progression pathways that fully support study and employment, and develop policies that promote the development of diverse talents. This report puts forth 14 policy recommendations from the three interlinked fields of governance, accreditation, and funding. Components include: establishing a policy blueprint to implement industry led lifelong education that bridges economic, manpower, and skills development; offering diverse and flexible progression pathways through an industry integrated accreditation system; and building a targeted and future oriented funding mechanism to support lifelong learning for all.

    Education policy



    Liberating Liberal Studies: Cultivating Interdisciplinary Learning, Thinking Skills and Appreciation of Diversity.

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    Our Hong Kong Foundation has published its latest Education and Youth policy research report, “Liberating Liberal Studies: Cultivating Interdisciplinary Learning, Thinking Skills and Appreciation of Diversity.”


    Liberal Studies is a landmark development in Hong Kong’s educational development in the 21st century. The impact of the New Senior Secondary academic system on the youth of our next generation over the past 10 years cannot be overstated.


    However, Liberal Studies has also provoked a great deal of discussion over its various elements, such as its curriculum, assessment system, and quality of teaching. As the education reforms nears its first decade, OHKF considers it timely to evaluate the effectiveness of Liberal Studies, and to assess if the subject has fulfilled its teaching aims.

    Liberating Liberal Studies

    Liberal Studies aimed to shatter past inflexible teaching methods, help students undergo interdisciplinary learning, assist them in mastering thinking skills, and teach them to respect others’ opinions. Liberal Studies as is, however, has fallen short of its original aspirations. The overly broad curriculum and rigid assessment mode have prevented students from conducting vigorous issue-enquiry approaches into topics, and the examination framework not only constrains them from broadening their horizons, but also limits their creativity and innovation by encouraging binary thinking.

    Liberating Liberal Studies


    Global trends have brought unprecedented challenges to both Liberal Studies and the education system as a whole. Due to the worldwide information explosion in the digital age, students must learn how to analyse the authenticity of information and discern the truth of things, which dovetails neatly with Liberal Studies’ aims. Major countries have increasingly emphasised thinking skills, communication techniques, active citizenships, and self-directed learning skills in order to tackle 21st century challenges. Liberal Studies is therefore more important than ever, as it seeks to instil all these attributes in students.

    As a versatile course, Liberal Studies holds its teaching material and teachers to high standards. A study conducted by OHKF discovered that 39% of secondary school teachers use social media as one of their main teaching materials in Liberal Studies, and an overwhelming 83% of school principals surveyed think that the Education Bureau should review textbooks to ensure their objectivity and fairness. Failure to select teaching materials carefully could affect the veracity and impartiality of teaching. The extensive scope of the curriculum necessitates that teachers grasp a wide range of topics and key concepts, in order to fulfil teaching aims. OHKF’s study indicates that 76% of teachers surveyed think that Liberal Studies holds them to inordinately high standards.

    OHKF hopes to examine whether Liberal Studies has accomplished the objectives of the education reforms, and to discuss the possibility of refining its core aims and amplifying its educational outcomes. This report puts forth 13 policy recommendations across 5 interwoven components, hoping to refocus and fine-tune Liberal Studies’ teaching aims. The components include: refining curriculum topics and enhancing course design, revamping the marking and assessment mechanisms, ensuring fair and unbiased teaching materials, providing professional training to improve the teaching process, and adjusting Liberal Studies requirements in further articulation. Key to the report are recommendations that the curriculum content be consolidated and reworked, the current seven-point grading scale be replaced with a pass or fail system, and Liberal Studies be removed from the JUPAS scoring system for admissions purposes.

    Liberating Liberal Studies



    Applied Education: A Holistic and Flexible Education System for the Digital Age

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    A thriving and sustainable education ecosystem should embrace learners’ diversity and global digitisation. As society continues to evolve, a more modernistic education system is needed to prepare talents for future challenges. Our Hong Kong Foundation is committed to a prosperous future full of hope, where the youth are guided to explore their passions, well-prepared for the future workplace, and motivated to continue learning throughout their lives.

    This report covers a set of policy recommendations to empower Higher Education institutions that provide practically-oriented degree programmes; to strengthen the role of the Higher Diploma in Applied Education; and to reinforce Applied Education and career exploration programmes in secondary schools. It leverages on Applied Education to lay the foundation for a new era, where an alternative, but equitable and sustainable pathway instils learners with confidence, equips them to pursue their aspirations and promotes social mobility.