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China’s Greater Bay Area failing to draw HK students

China’s plans to create the Greater Bay Area, an international business and economic hub encompassing Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in neighbouring Guangdong province, is proving unpopular with Hong Kong youth, according to a new study published by the Hong Kong Guangdong Youth Association.

Greater Bay AreaThe Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has come to symbolise cooperation between the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Following months of protests against Beijing that have seen increased interest in studying outside of the city, the majority of young Hong Kongers interviewed said they had no interest in moving to other parts of the Greater Bay Area for either work or study, listing among their reasons concerns about the recognition of Chinese university qualifications.

Since the release of the Greater Bay Area development plan in February 2019, the respective local governments have introduced new measures and projects to promote exchange and integration.

“Universities in Hong Kong have been building up close collaborations with elite HE institutions in the Greater Bay Area”

“Universities in Hong Kong have been building up close collaborations with elite higher education institutions in the Greater Bay Area,” a spokesperson from Hong Kong’s education bureau told The PIE News.

“In the 2018/19 academic year, our publicly-funded universities had 292 and 32 research collaborative projects with institutions in Guangdong and Macao respectively.”

New regulations have also given the children of Hong Kong and Macanese parents the same access to education as those born in Guangdong in the hopes of encouraging more residents to work there.

According to the spokesperson, they are also “exploring the feasibility” of offering schools and classes in the Greater Bay Area using the Hong Kong curriculum.

The study also suggested not just dislike of going elsewhere in the area, but of students coming in, while over half of respondents believed Hong Kong universities should not welcome mainland Chinese students.

In the last academic year, 1,755 students from Guangdong and 127 students from Macao studied in publicly-funded programs at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Hong Kong. The most recent data from China’s Ministry of Education, from 2017, said almost 8,000 Hong Kong students were studying in Guangdong.

But while Hong Kongers may not be interested in the Greater Bay Area, according to Beijing-based consultancy Venture Education, other countries very much are. By 2022, there will be 13 independent British schools in Guangdong province, more than in both Beijing and Shanghai.

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