By Ng Kang-chung
Hong Kong has moved up two places to become the world's fifth-best city for international students, according to London-based institution-assessment agency QS Quacquarelli Symonds' annual report. The city also tops Singapore in Asia in terms of affordable tuition fees, safety and living quality.
The city lost out to four European and Australian cities - Paris, Melbourne, London, and Sydney, which took the first to fourth places respectively.
Hong Kong's overall score of 387 beat Sydney's by just one point. Paris scored 412.
Hong Kong also replaced Singapore as the best city for students in Asia. The Lion City, the world's No 3 in last year's report, slid to 15th this year.
The agency - which is expected to release its full report today - found that Hong Kong outperformed Singapore in terms of student make-up, affordable tuition fees, safety and living quality.
Other Asian cities in this year's top 10 are Tokyo and Seoul, which ranked seventh and 10th, respectively. In its report highlights yesterday, QS Quacquarelli Symonds ranked Taipei 25th, one place above Beijing. Shanghai came in 32nd.
The report is based on five key categories derived from recognised indexes including the Economist Intelligence Unit's liveability survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers' cities of opportunity index, and the Mercer cost of living index.
"QS Best Student Cities provides students with a complementary tool to the university-focused rankings," QS research head Ben Sowter said.
"After all, a university experience is … influenced by the location, especially for international students."
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen was pleased with the results but urged the government and universities to do more to encourage cultural exchanges between local and international students in Hong Kong.
"Internationalisation is more than attracting overseas students," Ip said. "Sometimes, we see that local students … do not seem to be interested in making friends with those from different cultural backgrounds."
The city has stepped up measures to attract international students since 2008, including relaxing immigration and employment requirements for non-local students and setting up scholarships for them.
In the 2012-13 academic year, about 26,600 non-local students from over 70 countries pursued post-secondary studies in Hong Kong, the government said.
QS Quacquarelli Symonds started the survey in 2012.
THE TOP 10
1. Paris (1)
2. Melbourne (5)
3. London (2)
4. Sydney (4)
5. Hong Kong (7)
6. Boston (8)
7. Tokyo (17)
8. Montreal (9)
9. Toronto (13)
10. Seoul (14)
Article Source: http://www.scmp.com