Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training
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Table 1: Hong Kong and Macau Students in the US
Hong Kong Students in the U.S. 5,8485,867
Macau Students in the U.S. 394360

Data Sources: Open Doors Report from IIE, EducationUSA

With one of the highest GDP per capita rates compared to other Asian markets, the United States remains a top international destination for Hong Kong students.  The high standard of education in the United States and the potential increase in job prospects after graduation, makes the United States a preferred destination for Hong Kong students.

Table  2: GDP per Capita
CountryGDP Per Capita (2022 estimate)
Hong Kong$48,983
South Korea$32,422
Mainland, China$12,720

Source: CIA World Factbook   

Hong Kong parents commonly employ education 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 some high school counselors.  Word of mouth is also a significant factor in Hong Kong when deciding where to study overseas.  Colleges and universities are increasingly relying on their Hong Kong alumni network to reach potential students.

The U.S. Commercial Service organizes Virtual Education Fairs to promote U.S. academic institutions to high school counselors, education agents, 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 travelling 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 that attended.  The U.S. Commercial Service organizes two to four of these events each year, themed around four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, technical training institutions, and boarding schools and high schools.

The U.S. Consulate has an active EducationUSA program that is run by the State Department.  This office maintains a strong network of local secondary schools and can provide insights on educational trends and recruiting strategies.  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 their school’s profile in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Education System

Hong Kong’s public education system consists of twelve years of free education, from Primary 1 to Secondary 6 (see table below).  Upon completion of Secondary 6 year, students take the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) exams.  Upon obtaining the minimum requirements on these exams, students can apply for undergraduate programs at local universities.

Table 3: Hong Kong’s public education system
Average AgeYearSchoolU.S. Equivalent
3-4Kindergarten 1KindergartenNursery
4-5Kindergarten 2KindergartenPreschool
5-6Kindergarten 3KindergartenKindergarten
6-7Primary 1Primary SchoolElementary School
7-8Primary 2
8-9Primary 3
9-10Primary 4
10-11Primary 5
11-12Primary 6
12-13Secondary 1Junior Secondary SchoolMiddle School
13-14Secondary 2
14-15Secondary 3High School
15-16Secondary 4Senior Secondary School
16-17Secondary 5
17-18Secondary 6
> 18UniversityUniversityUniversity

In the 2022-2023 academic year, 48,762 students sat for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams. Of these, 17,391 (42.3 percent) of students achieved the minimum marks required to enter publicly funded undergraduate programs in Hong Kong[1].  In other words, most students who sat for this exam must look for alternative options if they wish to continue their education.

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education/article/3228088/4-hong-kong-students-achieve-perfect-score-university-entrance-exams-marking-7-year-low

Graph 1: Student Enrollment by Education Level

Hong Kong Student Enrollment by Education Level
Hong Kong Student Enrollment by Education Level

Data Sources: Hong Kong Education Bureau

In the past 10 years, Hong Kong has seen a steady decline in secondary and post-secondary students. According to UNESCO, 35,361 Hong Kong students are studying abroad at present.  The most popular study destination is the United Kingdom, followed by Australia, the United States, and Canada. A total of 5,867 students studied in the United States during the 2022-2023 academic year, a 0.3 percent increase from the 5,848 students studying in the U.S. during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Undergraduate Programs: As mentioned above, many Hong Kong students cannot gain admission to local universities despite meeting the minimum requirements because of the limited availability of seats. Additionally, students that do gain admission to Hong Kong universities may not be admitted into their preferred programs, which include finance, law, and medicine, as these programs are highly competitive. Consequently, there is a strong demand to study these fields in the United States.  Feedback received from the U.S. Commercial Service’s recruitment partners also highlighted an increased demand in healthcare and the life sciences, game design, and data science fields.

Community Colleges: Apart from traditional four-year universities, there is also an emerging market for two-year community colleges where admission requirements and tuition are comparably 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 universities in the U.S.

Boarding Schools: A growing number of Hong Kong parents are interested in finding opportunities for their high school and middle school aged children to study at 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 equip them with academic, cultural, and linguistic skills that may improve their chances of entering colleges and universities in the United States.


Education Technology: There are opportunities in the Hong Kong market for U.S. education technology companies.  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.  Local K-12 schools and companies can apply for QEF funding to procure the necessary information technology equipment and curricula for these programs.  U.S. education technology firms are suggested to work with Hong Kong distributors to tap into these funding as they are familiar with U.S. edtech solutions and open to additional U.S. supplier relationships.

In June 2023, the Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB) announced several initiatives to promote innovation and technology education in schools, including the “Module on Artificial Intelligence for Junior Secondary Level.”  This module serves as the city’s first curriculum on artificial intelligence (AI) for junior secondary students and includes topics such as computer vision, computer speech and language (large language models like ChatGPT), ethics, and the social impact of technology.

This module will be used in more than 450 public secondary schools and will require teachers to incorporate a total of 10 to 14 hours of AI education in the information and communication technology (ICT) subject per year starting September 2023.  Additionally, the bureau will offer workshops on AI teaching to more than 1,000 public secondary school ICT teachers.

As Hong Kong continues to adopt AI, this will provide tremendous opportunity for edtech companies that leverage generative AI or provide platforms and content to teach AI and coding.


Hong Kong Trade Shows:

Education and Careers Expo (annual)

Date: January 25 – January 28, 2024

Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre


Hong Kong International Education Expo (annual):

Date: July 8 – July 9, 2023

Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre


Learning and Teaching Expo (annual):

Date: December 11 –  December 14, 2024

Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre


International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (Macau):

Date: April 11 – April 13, 2024

Venue: Macao


Government Agencies:

Government Education Bureau


For more information about this industry sector, please contact:

U.S. Commercial Service, Hong Kong 

Maggie Lau, Commercial Specialist  

Email: maggie.lau@trade.gov