The Scholarship for Excellence will cover tuition fees “for the normal duration” of an undergraduate programme, or two years of postgraduate study, subject to a ceiling of HK$250,000 (US$32,232) per year, the Bureau has said.
Around 100 students will receive up to HK$450,000 to cover tuition fees and living expenses in the first year
Scholars may study at any university that appears in the top 100 of any of the four major global academic rankings: QS, Shanghai Jiaotong, Times Higher Education, US News and World Report.
They must then return to Hong Kong to work for two years or the duration of their course abroad (whichever is longer), though this requirement may be deferred or waived “under exceptional circumstances”, according to the Bureau.
The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of academic merit, but priority will be given to students who would not otherwise be able to afford overseas study. Students who choose to take up subjects that will benefit Hong Kong’s economy or those not available domestically will also be at an advantage.
Means-tested bursaries, capped at HK$200,000 (US$25,800) per year – up to HK$50,000 (US$6,500) per annum for covering excess tuition fees and up to HK$150,000 (US$19,300) per annum for covering living and other study-related expenses are also available.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who made the announcement in his 2014 Policy Address said the fund “will offer more opportunities and wider choices for senior secondary graduates to pursue higher education”.
The first intake of students will begin their studies in the 2015/16 academic year, with new cohorts of around the same number in the following two years, dependent upon the programme’s success. Applications will close on January 31, with interviews to follow in June.