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Are international schools in Hong Kong still respected by further education establishments?

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For most expat families, regardless of where they are in the world, their children’s education will be amongst their top priorities. With Hong Kong being home to expatriates from all around the globe, there is little surprise that there are dozens of international schools teaching curriculum from various countries and in different languages. However, parents frequently ask us if further education establishments still respect international schools for instance in the UK or US.

As the leading British international school in Hong Kong, we are always happy to address this topic and feel that it is a valid question. The answer is very straightforward. The elite international schools still command the same respect as they did twenty-five years ago. Indeed, many of the world’s top universities are delighted to welcome students from Hong Kong. Of course, you may think we are biased, but in the article, we will explain some of the reasons why very little has altered.


Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British Colony when it was handed back to mainland China. It had, and indeed, still has, a thriving business district which welcomed some of the top financial institutions and law firms from around the globe. It was one of the most prosperous cities in the region and, as such, welcomed vast numbers of expats, predominantly from the UK. Many chose to make the country their permanent home with the numerous international schools being established, all of which had strong links with universities in the UK.


After 1997, Hong Kong remained largely autonomous, continuing in much the same vein as it did previously. Many students continued their education overseas with Britain being one of the countries of choice. Many state schools and, the international schools, teach the English curriculum, which lends itself perfectly to students who wish to continue their education in the UK. The transition from an international school in Hong Kong to a leading university in the UK is relatively easy.

Although Hong Kong, is adopting more of mainland China’s rules in all walks of life, the impact on expats has been minimal, at this stage at least, with the top international schools still having the same prestige as they have always had. Of course, just like students who have studied elsewhere globally, in most cases, scholars would need to pay full tuition fees without receiving grants from the UK government. However, this certainly doesn’t dissuade students from pursuing their education in the UK or anywhere else. Almost everyone university is delighted to welcome Hong Kong students thanks to their work ethic and superb schooling.

International schools attract the best teachers

One of the main reasons international schools are so highly respected is the quality of the teaching. The best schools in Hong Kong can attract the best teachers thanks to the financial packages that can be put together, the favourable tax rates and, of course, the superb lifestyle. Top teachers want to work in the country, which is beneficial for all parties, not least the students. Pupils tend to attain higher grades, which is in no small part down to the educators’ quality. Naturally, this is a trend that is recognised by further education establishments.

Excellent facilities

In almost every case, students who attend international schools are fee payers, which help generate significant revenue that is ploughed back into the school in various ways. While it is a bonus in attracting the best teachers, it also means that they have the privilege of having access to some of the best facilities in Asia, enhancing the overall learning experience. Utilising these facilities means that students have access to everything they need to help them fulfil their potential. It naturally means that students receive all the assistance they need to attain the top universities’ necessary grades.

Attitude of students

We find that both new expat teachers and students are impressed by students’ attitude in most international schools. Pupils are generally more willing to learn and are happier than they would be in their home countries. Just like in the workplace, happy students tend to perform better, and with positive influences all around them, their excellent attitude is rewarded with the grades they deserve.

Levels of English

English is still one of the official languages of Hong Kong, which means that the native Hong Kong students have no problem meeting the language criteria when it comes to applying for university. Very few universities ask for proof of proficiency in English if the students have attended an international school and been taught in English. Of course, this supports our claim that international schools in Hong Kong are still held in the same high esteem as they have always been with almost no restrictions prohibiting entry beyond attaining the grades.

The grades are still the most significant factor

As we have touched upon, there is no escaping the fact that achieving the required grades is the primary consideration for university places in the UK or most of the first-world. Of course, unconditional offers are made, but this is usually because the student already has an excellent academic record. Everything is setup perfectly for students to succeed after they leave school, into further education and then into the workplace. Anyone who has attended school in Hong Kong should be proud of the fact, and it definitely won’t restrict their future prospects.

The future

As we look to the future, no one can ever give definitive answers about what will happen as 2020 proved. Hong Kong will undoubtedly be controlled more by the mainland in the future, but all parties recognise the former colony’s uniqueness within Asia and worldwide. We have absolutely no reason to think that business or international schools in Hong Kong will be adversely impacted in the short or medium term. It means that our school, along with others like us, will be respected for many years to come. Our helpful and friendly teams are always available to answer any questions that you may have.