Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2023-01-30


Table: Hong Kong and Macau Students in the US






Hong Kong Students in the U.S. 




5,525 (estimated)

Macau Students in the U.S. 




384 (estimated)

Data Sources: Open Doors Report from IIE, EducationUSA

Hong Kong’s education system, which went through a major restructuring initiative from 2008 to 2012, is comprised of three years of junior secondary followed by three years of senior secondary schooling.  This leads to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) exams, which allows students to gain admission to a range of post-secondary, vocational, and tertiary courses offered by local schools based on their examination results.  

Given the highly qualified and sophisticated applicant pool, Hong Kong’s university selection process is extremely competitive.  Only 18 percent of Hong Kong applicants gain admission to local universities.  Also, many Hong Kong residents are willing to pay for overseas education as they believe it will boost their job prospects upon graduation.  The table below illustrates that Hong Kong has the highest of GDP per capita as compared to other Asian countries:

Table: GDP per Capita


GDP Per Capita



Hong Kong


South Korea




Source: CIA World Factbook   

According to UNESCO, 36,100 Hong Kong students are studying abroad at present.  The most popular study abroad destination is the UK, followed by Australia, the U.S., and Canada.  Less significant numbers of students also study in nearby Macau, South Korea, Germany, and Ireland.  A total of 5,778 Hong Kong students studied in the United States during the 2020-2021 academic year, of which 57.9 percent were undergraduate students.  

Many Hong Kong high school graduates and their parents believe that a U.S. education will boost their career prospects.  In addition, more Hong Kong parents recognize the academic excellence and opportunities provided by colleges and universities outside the Ivy League or other schools that traditionally have high name recognition in Hong Kong.  The U.S. Commercial Service in Hong Kong notes that an increasing number of American education institutions are attending Hong Kong education shows and are doing regular outreach to Hong Kong parents, students and high school administrators, and career counselors.  

Leading Sub-Sectors

Undergraduate Programs: As noted above, although many Hong Kong students meet the requirements to enter Hong Kong universities, many still cannot gain admission to local universities due to the limited availability of seats.  Additionally, students that do gain admission to Hong Kong universities may not get accepted into their preferred programs such as business, finance, economics, and law, as these programs can be highly competitive.  Consequently, there is a strong demand among Hong Kong students to study in U.S. in these fields.

Community Colleges: Apart from traditional four-year colleges, there is also an emerging market for two-year community colleges where admission requirements are comparatively lower.  Hong Kong students tend to be more interested in community colleges with guaranteed transferable credits to universities, particularly those schools with established paths to transfer to top four- year colleges in the United States.   

Boarding Schools:  There are a growing number of Hong Kong parents interested in finding opportunities for their high school and even middle school aged children to study in U.S. boarding schools.  This trend is partly driven by the fact that some parents and students feel that a private boarding school education can help equip them with academic, cultural, and linguistic skills that may improve their chances of entering colleges and universities in the United States.  In January 2022, the U.S. Commercial Service in Hong Kong held a well-attended Virtual Education Fairs to highlight 6 U.S. boarding schools.  The fair was attended by roughly 25 education agents from throughout Hong Kong and Macau, with broad interest in future engagements related to U.S. boarding schools. 


New-to-market U.S. schools trying to recruit students should try to meet with high school counselors, parents, and students virtually, and face-to-face when travel restrictions are lifted.  These interactions will help the schools gain exposure, answer questions, and raise their profile.  Word of mouth is also a significant factor in Hong Kong about deciding where to study overseas.  A growing number of colleges and universities are increasingly relying on their Hong Kong alumni network as a channel to reach new potential students.  Hong Kong parents also commonly employ educational agents to search for appropriate schools and provide other related services.  The U.S. Commercial Service in Hong Kong can provide U.S. schools with pre-screened meetings with education agents and high school counselors as part of our Gold Key program.  

The U.S. Commercial Service also organizes regular Regional Virtual Education Fairs to promote U.S. academic institutions to high school counselors, education agencies, parents, and students in Hong Kong, China, and Southeast Asian countries.  Participation in these fairs allows U.S. academic institutions to gain access to a large pool of prospective students without physically traveling to Hong Kong.  U.S. academic institutions receive a welcome kit after the Virtual Education Fair that includes background and contacts of high school counselors and agents in Hong Kong.  The U.S. Commercial Service is organizing a Virtual Education Fair in September 2022 to promote the community colleges and universities in New Jersey to education agents and high schools’ counselors in Hong Kong.

There is also demand from local education institutions to partner with U.S. universities that offer specialty programs in areas such as fintech, Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG), Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced manufacturing, smart cities, and digital transformation.  These programs could be degree or non-degree programs and would be of interest to traditional students and working professionals.   

 The U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong and Macau also works with EducationUSA, a program that is run by the State Department, which maintains a strong network of local secondary schools that are in regular contact with EducationUSA advisors who provide insights on education trends, recruiting strategies, etc. U.S. academic institutions interested in the Hong Kong market can also consider partnering with EducationUSA to coordinate outreach visits, presentations, seminars, teacher workshops, and other opportunities to raise a U.S. school’s profile in Hong Kong.

Education Technology: There are multiple opportunities for U.S. education technology companies in Hong Kong.  The Hong Kong Government’s Quality Education Fund (QEF) provides annual grants of approximately US$30 million for Hong Kong’s K-12 schools and companies to support innovation education programs.  The local K-12 schools and corporates can apply for the QEF funding to procure the necessary information technology equipment and curriculum for these programs.  U.S. education technology firms are advised to work with Hong Kong distributors to tap into these funds as they are familiar with U.S. edtech solutions and open to additional U.S. supplier relationships. More information can be found in this market intelligence report: https://www.trade.gov/market-intelligence/hong-kong-education-technology

Foreign Exchange and Dual Degree Partnerships: Hong Kong University (HKU) and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) are both top higher educational institutions in Hong Kong and are interested in exploring academic partnerships with U.S. Universities.  HKU’s school of business school is looking to expand collaboration with U.S. schools for study-abroad exchange programs.  HKPU is interested in partnerships for its Dual Program for Accounting and Finance degree with U.S. universities.  U.S. institutions that are interested in this partnership can contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Hong Kong for more details.


Trade Fairs:

Education and Career Expo (annual)

Hong Kong International Education Expo (annual)

Learning and Teaching Expo (annual)


Government Agencies:

Government Education Bureau



For more information about this industry sector, please contact:

U.S. Commercial Service, Hong Kong

Email: Office.Hongkong@trade.gov