International School Scholarships in Hong Kong

How to save on your tuition fees with a little help from a scholarship at one of Hong Kong’s most popular schools. Scholarships range from 10% to 100% and can significantly impact a family's finances...
International School Scholarships in Hong Kong
By Carli Allan
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With the cost of education rising in many international schools in Hong Kong, who doesn’t want to get their tuition fees paid for - if only in part? There is more opportunity than many realise with a rise in the number of scholarships offered by international schools in Hong Kong for deserving students.

Some of Hong Kong’s top schools have a scholarship programme that covers the tuition fees for primary and/or secondary education, including the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, A Levels and the two-year IGCSE programme. As well as academic scholarships for pupils whose strengths lie in areas such as English, maths, humanities, languages and STEM, there are also scholarships for art, music and sports.

Hong Kong’s seven Private Independent Schools (PIS) must set aside 10% of their total fee income for scholarships and other financial assistance programmes. These schools – including Discovery College, The Independent Schools Foundation Academy, International Christian School, Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School, Renaissance College, Victoria Shanghai Academy and Yew Chung International School (Secondary) – must ensure that at least 70% of the student body are Hong Kong Permanent Residents, so the chances of expat students achieving a scholarship place is reduced.

In the international schools sector, there is a growing choice of merit-based scholarships available offering up to 100% exemption of the tuition fees. Competition for scholarships is often high and the application process can be rigorous; while some are only available for Hong Kong permanent residents, others are awarded on a competitive basis to all students regardless of nationality and residency.

The Mount Kelly Foundation, the charitable arm of Mount Kelly Hong Kong School, offers a unique scholarship programme to underprivileged children living in Hong Kong; subsidies and scholarships are offered to attend any international school of their choosing in Hong Kong.

Some of Hong Kong’s newest schools, which have been allocated land or buildings by the Education Bureau (EDB), are required by the EDB to offer scholarships. One such school is the American School Hong Kong (ASHK), which opened in 2016. Head of school John Jalsevac says:

“We are required by the Education Bureau to allocate 2% of our revenue to scholarships, and we just don’t get enough people apply. I want families to know that the scholarships are not just there for rocket scientists, although we do have some exceptional students here who are scholars. It’s also for children who are strong in music or dance or may have written a great story that was published in the media. If you think your child may be a candidate, then we encourage you to apply.”

Who are scholarships awarded to?

Scholarships are awarded to students from as young as eight (Year 4) up to 17 years (Year 13). International students are eligible to apply for most scholarship schemes, and most schools require students to have a Hong Kong Identity Card. In most cases, scholarships are available to both new and existing students at a school.

What do scholarships cover?

Scholarships range from 10% to 100% of the tuition fees. Parents will typically have to pay for additional fees such as uniform, books, school lunches, building fund fees and capital levy.

How and when should I apply?

Schools typically require you to apply by March prior to the start of the academic year in September.

Each school has its own requirements, though, and you should refer to the school’s website for information about who qualifies for the scholarship and how to apply – and always meet the application deadline.

Most schools require you to apply with the following:

• An online application form

• A one-page essay/personal statement by the student expressing why they believe that they deserve the scholarship

• Two letters of recommendation from the student’s secondary school teachers or administrators

• Student’s current and prior year’s school reports

• Birth certificate

• Student’s language abilities

• Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card or passport/PRC Exit Entry Permit pages or Hong Kong Identity Card

• Sport achievements and/or sport certificates (if any), and sports trials if relevant

• Proof of parents’ financial standing (tax return, salary slip etc) for means-tested awards

• Application fees

• Shortlisted students will be invited to attend an interview and/or admissions test

How long do scholarships last?

Some scholarships are awarded for two years, and cover either the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, A Levels or IGCSE programmes; others may last for the duration of your child’s time at the school but will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Are there any non-academic scholarships available in Hong Kong?

Yes, several schools including Harrow International School Hong Kong offers scholarships for students with outstanding talent in sport, music and the arts. American School Hong Kong (ASHK) offers scholarships for diversity, and Concordia International School has scholarships for leadership.

When reviewing applications, most schools will not only focus on academic achievements but also aptitude in sport, the arts, leadership and community service.

How are scholarships different to bursaries?

Bursaries are means-tested whereas scholarships are primarily merit-based. Some schools offers a bursary or financial assistance, which is a means-tested award for parents who could not otherwise afford the fees. Bursaries are available for needy primary and secondary students at schools including Harrow International School Hong Kong, Victoria Shanghai Academy, and Malvern College Hong Kong. Financial assistance is accessible to students at English Schools Foundation schools in the event of “sudden and unexpected” change of circumstances.

Which schools in Hong Kong offer scholarships?

Click here for a roundup of schools that offer scholarships in Hong Kong.

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