The number of mainland students applying for places at Hong Kong universities has fallen by as much as 40 per cent.

According to Ming Pao, eight universities that normally attract a large number of mainland students saw a substantial fall in applications this year, which some observers have blamed on last year’s Occupy protests.

University of Hong Kong
University of Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University revealed that only 2,300 mainland candidates have enrolled for the coming academic year, down from 3,500 last year. Figures from Lingnan University show that the number of undergraduate applicants from the mainland has fallen from 928 to 556.

Speaking to the newspaper, Hong Kong Baptist University’s Academic Registrar Dr So Kwok-sang said that mainland parents often asked him about the political situation in Hong Kong and whether or not their children will be safe studying in the city.

Vice-President of the Hong Kong Institute of Education Joshua Mok suggested that other factors, such as the strong Hong Kong Dollar, may prompt prospective mainland students to apply elsewhere.

The overwhelming majority of international students enrolling at Hong Kong universities last year came from the mainland. According to the Education Bureau, there are around 6,630 mainland students enrolled in undergraduate courses across eight universities in Hong Kong, comprising 71 percent of international students and nine percent of the total student body.

However there are considerably more mainland students enrolled on postgraduate courses in Hong Kong. Of the  6,238 mainland students enrolled at the University of Hong Kong, 62 percent were enrolled on either a taught or research postgraduate.

Similarly at City University of Hong Kong, 3,248 of 4,086 students were enrolled on either a professional doctorate or a taught or research postgraduate degree.

According to the University Grants Commission, these were the numbers of mainland students at Hong Kong universities in 2013-14:

  • City University Hong Kong: 1,294 (75 percent of international students, 10 percent of the overall student body).
  • Hong Kong Baptist University: 852 (95 percent of international students, 12 percent of the overall student body).
  • Lingnan University: 180 (81 percent of international students, 7 percent of the overall student body).
  • Chinese University Hong Kong: 2,636 (85 percent of international students, 14 percent of the overall student body).
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education: 259 (94 percent of international students, 3 percent of the overall student body).
  • Hong Kong Polytechnic University: 1,552 (82 percent of international students, 10 percent of the overall student body).
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology: 1,738 (71 percent of international students, 17 percent of the overall student body).
  • University of Hong Kong: 2,863 (73 percent of international students, 21 percent of the overall student body).

Vicky is a British-born Chinese journalist with three years of experience covering UK politics. She previously worked for PoliticsHome and has interned at Sky News and CNN International. She also co-produced and filmed a documentary about the Hong Kong protests for MSNBC, which won the grand student prize at the 2015 Human Rights Press Awards. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading and moved to Hong Kong in 2014 to complete a journalism masters at the University of Hong Kong.