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UK BNO offer creates spike in HK interest

The UK’s announcement to grant British National Overseas passport holders in Hong Kong five years leave to remain with work and study rights has been welcomed by agents in the region, who report immediate interest spikes from students and families.

The UK government announcement is expected to attract families from Hong Kong. Photo: Public Domain Pictures

Further details about the UK's plans will be fleshed out in due course

Revealed on July 1, the UK government said British Nationals Overseas will be granted five years limited leave to remain, after which they will be able to apply for settled status before being able to apply for citizenship.

The bespoke BNO route was announced by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, in response to a Chinese government proclamation imposing a national security law on Hong Kong.

“Most parents assumed their children would immediately be entitled to free education in the UK’s state school system”

Australia announced similar plans days later.

Further details about the UK’s plans will be fleshed out in due course and the government said the move will be implemented in the coming months, it has been met with hope from parents and students across the territory according to education consultants.

Founder of Britannia StudyLink, Samuel Chan, said the agency is already offering state and grammar school placement, and in the past month has been putting clients in touch with estate agents such as JLL and Savilles.

Clients have purchased more than 30 UK properties in the past month, he said.

“[We are] expecting demand to rocket when the UK government provides details on the ‘go-ahead’,” Chan told The PIE News.

Historical ties mean the UK remains the focus for families, he continued, explaining, “Australia is much less sought after”.

Hong Kong English-language newspaper, South China Morning Post has reported that Hong Kong secondary school graduates seeking to study mainland China or Taiwan surged by 13% and 69%, respectively.

Other education consultancies revealed that study enquiries for the UK and Australia have risen by 50% compared with 2019.

Chief executive of Hong Kong Overseas Studies Centre, Jimmy Wong, said the company had received more than 100 inquiries from BNO passport holders.

School interest from Hong Kong families is likely to increase as BNO passport holders will be required to arrive in the UK to start the scheme, and will need to secure school places for any children at the same time, he said.

“Most parents assumed their children would immediately be entitled to free education in the UK’s state school system which is completely wrong,” he said.

“Basically we are telling them to wait for the official announcement by the UK Government about the details of the scheme.”

HKOSC predicts that more families will be looking for private day schools, with more children living with parents as they relocate to the UK, he indicated.

Focusing on British and Australian high school and university options, Aston Education has recorded around 30-50% increase in enquiries compared with 2019, SCMP added.

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