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Notes for Applicants

    Objectives

    1. Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme (hereafter “HKSES”) aims to support local students to pursue studies at world renowned universities outside Hong Kong, with a view to grooming a top cadre of talents with global vision, international network and world-class education, thereby contributing to enhancing Hong Kong’s competitiveness as Asia’s World City in a globalised knowledge economy. The scheme also seeks to support those students who have excellent academic achievement but lack the financial means to study at top-notch universities outside Hong Kong.

    Eligibility

    1. To be eligible for the HKSES, applicants are required to meet the following two criteria –
      1. have right of abode or right to land, or have entered Hong Kong on One-way Permits; and
      2. have resided in Hong Kong continuously for three complete years immediately prior to the commencement of the academic programme outside Hong Kong.
      3. In other words, students entering Hong Kong on student or dependant visas will not be eligible for the HKSES. Besides, if an applicant is engaged in full-time education or employment outside Hong Kong anytime during the three-year period immediately prior to the commencement of the academic programme outside Hong Kong, he/she will not be considered as having met the residency requirement set out in (b) above.
    2. For undergraduate programmes, only students receiving/received their formal school education in Hong Kong are eligible. This would cover all Hong Kong students who receive/received senior secondary education in Hong Kong, including those studying/studied local (e.g. Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education) and non-local (e.g. International Baccalaureate) curricula in Hong Kong.
    3. For postgraduate programmes which may cover those of master and doctoral degrees or equivalent levels, students who have obtained their undergraduate qualifications either in or outside Hong Kong are eligible, provided that they meet the criteria set out in paragraph 2 above.
    4. This application form is only applicable to those programmes commencing in the 2020/21 academic year (i.e. during the period of August 2020 to July 2021). If an applicant is already pursuing any of the programmes filled out in Part II of the application form, his/her application will not be considered under the HKSES.

    Universities/Institutions and Programmes Applied

    1. For Part II of the application form (Details of Universities/Institutions and Programmes Applied and to be Studied with the Scholarship under the HKSES), applicants should fill out up to ten choices of the universities/institutions and programmes (each choice comprising a combination of one university/institution and one programme offered by that university/institution). Applicants have to provide documentary proof(s) showing that they have already applied for the chosen university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) in support of their applications for scholarship.
    2. Applicants are allowed to make change(s) to the choice(s) filled out in Part II of the application form once before the interview. Such change(s) should be made by completing the “Application Form for Changing a Choice of University/Institution and Programme” once they receive the shortlisting notification from the HKSES Secretariat, with documentary proof(s) showing that they have already applied for the chosen university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) intended to submit for change. However, applicants should take note that such change(s) will be subject to reassessment of the application based on the latest choice(s) of university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s), therefore it may affect the applicant’s eligibility, shortlisting result and possibly delay the process of the application. Further change to the choice(s) of university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) after the interview is not permitted. If an applicant eventually decides to enroll and study at a university/institution and programme other than those filled out in Part II of the application form or changed choice(s) thereafter approved, his/her application will not be considered under the HKSES.

    Selection Criteria and Process

    1. The HKSES will adopt a merit-based approach to selection, targeting the best and most outstanding Hong Kong students who are admitted to world renowned universities and programmes. Selection will be based not only on the academic achievements, but also other attributes such as leadership qualities and potential, contribution and commitment to the society, etc. Applicants will need to demonstrate inter alia how his/her study would benefit himself/herself and eventually the community as a whole.
    2. The HKSES Secretariat is responsible for the operation of the HKSES. It would seek advice from the Advisers to the HKSES on matters relating to the implementation of the Scheme as appropriate (e.g. principles and criteria for the selection process). The selection criteria will comprise the following aspects –

      1. academic and non-academic achievements;
      2. leadership qualities and potential;
      3. contribution and commitment to Hong Kong, particularly the plan to return to work and contribute to Hong Kong after completion of studies; and
      4. whether the university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) applied is/are deemed as world renowned university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s).

      In accessing (d), the HKSES Secretariat will draw reference from the top 100 universities/institutions in widely recognised world university ranking tables, including but not limited to those published by QS, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Times Higher Education and US News and World Report; and the top 30 colleges in the National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings published by the US News and World Report. Besides, the HKSES Secretariat will take into account the relevant justifications provided by the applicants in assessing whether the university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) applied is/are deemed as world renowned university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s).

    3. In addition, the HKSES Secretariat will take into account the following –
      1. the applicants should receive confirmed offer(s) from world renowned university(ies) for programme(s) at undergraduate or above levels;
      2. while there is no limitation on the disciplines of study, priority will be given to programmes that are conducive to building up Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness, in particular those not available in Hong Kong and disciplines related to innovation and technology; and
      3. other things being equal, priority will be given to students from needy families who will otherwise not have the opportunity to support their studies at prestigious universities outside Hong Kong.
    4. Disciplines related to innovation and technology as mentioned in paragraph 10 above refer to STEM-related subjects in general. Examples of STEM-related subjects include Chemistry (Science), Physics (Science), Computer Science (Technology), Civil Engineering (Engineering), Mechanical Engineering (Engineering), Pure Mathematics (Mathematics) and Mathematical Statistics (Mathematics). The decision of the HKSES Secretariat on the interpretation of disciplines related to innovation and technology shall be final and binding.
    5. All applications received under the HKSES for the 2020/21 academic year would be handled through a three-stage selection process - preliminary screening (January to February 2020), shortlisting (February to March 2020) and interview (April 2020 onwards).
    6. Shortlisted applicants will normally receive a notification by end May 2020.
    7. Shortlisted applicants who have received unconditional offers (not including conditional offers) from the university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) filled out in the application form and endorsed as world renowned by the HKSES Secretariat will be invited to attend interviews starting from April 2020. Shortlisted applicants who have received unconditional offers from those university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) should as soon as possible submit the relevant documentary proof(s) to the HKSES Secretariat.
    8. Interview time slots will be arranged by the HKSES Secretariat at its sole discretion. The Secretariat will normally inform applicants of the interview time slot one week prior to the interview and applicants should attend the interview according to the assigned time slot. If an applicant is unable to turn up for interview at the assigned time slots for three times, he/she will be disqualified unless otherwise exceptionally justified.
    9. We plan to award up to 100 scholarships each year to support the most outstanding local students to pursue degree education outside Hong Kong. Whilst there will be no pre-determined split of or quotas for awardees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, the HKSES will primarily benefit students pursuing studies at undergraduate level. However, flexibility would be given to the HKSES Secretariat based on the merits of applicants in each year.
    10. The decision of the HKSES Secretariat on the awardees shall be final and there is no appeal mechanism for the outcomes.
    11. Operational details of the HKSES have been set out in this website. Apart from "Notes for Applicants", applicants are required to read through all the operational details set out in this website.

    Scholarship and Bursary (2020/21 Academic Year)

    1. All awardees will receive a non-means-tested scholarship to cover their tuition fees, subject to a ceiling of HK$300,000 per annum, whichever is lower.
    2. In addition, awardees passing a means-test will receive bursary, subject to a ceiling of HK$200,000 per student per annum, for covering living and other study-related expenses.
    3. The value of the award will be correspondingly reduced if an awardee also receives other awards to finance his/her same study outside Hong Kong.
    4. For those applicants who eventually receive scholarship from other sources covering the tuition fee in full, they may still be considered for awarding a Scholarship Title under the HKSES (without any monetary benefit) as a token of Government’s recognition of their outstanding achievements. The same set of assessment criteria for other HKSES awardees will be applied to this kind of awardees.
    5. For the means-tested bursary, the same means test formula of the Student Finance Office (SFO) of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency will be adopted as applicable to local tertiary students with five tiers of financial assistance based on the result of the means test. There will be five levels of bursary, i.e. 100%, 75%, 50%, 25% and 15% for different Adjusted Family Income groups. The resulting amount will then be further reduced by the percentage (i.e. 100% (no assistance), 80%, 60%, 40%, 20% and 0% (no reduction of assistance)) set out against the net asset value per family member of the applicant. In view of the fact that awardees will be away from Hong Kong during their studies, the means test will be conducted only once throughout the study rather than on an annual basis, unless the awardees encounter significant changes in their family circumstances which warrant reassessment.

    Safeguards

    1. Once awarded, a scholarship will last for the normal duration of the concerned programme in respect of undergraduate studies. For postgraduate studies, a scholarship will last for the minimum years required to complete the programme in respect of doctoral degree programmes and up to two years in respect of other postgraduate programmes (e.g. master’s degree programmes). It will be renewable annually subject to the provision of an annual report with satisfactory documentary proof of the awardees’ good academic performance and compliance of terms and conditions set out in the scholarship offer letter during the scholarship period.
    2. Awardees should take note of the following –
      1. unless otherwise determined by the HKSES Secretariat in accordance with paragraph (b) below, awardees (including those awarded with Scholarship Title only) are required to complete the specific study programmes and undertake to return to Hong Kong upon graduation to work for at least two years or a period equivalent to the duration of receiving the scholarship, whichever is longer. All awardees must sign an undertaking to confirm their consent on this requirement;
      2. The HKSES Secretariat has the discretion to determine, upon application on a case-by-case basis, whether the requirement to undertake to return to and work in Hong Kong could be suitably deferred or waived under exceptional circumstances (e.g. pursuing more advanced studies immediately after graduation, or need to work in the country of their study as a mandatory requirement for acquiring professional qualifications); and
      3. in the event of failure to comply with (a) or (b) above, the awardees concerned will be required to repay the amount of monies disbursed, including both the non-means tested scholarship and means-tested bursary (if any), in full or on a pro-rata basis, as the case may be, with reference to the prevailing policy of the SFO on outstanding student loans. Details of the relevant policy are available in the General Guidelines to Application for Means-tested Bursary.

    Completing the Form

    1. Each applicant should submit one application form only.
    2. Please complete all parts in the form and ensure that the information is accurate.
    3. The provision of all personal data requested in the form is obligatory, except those items clearly marked as optional. An applicant should particularly note that the Education Bureau may require him/her to provide further specific details as necessary to support his/her application. If an applicant fails to provide all information as requested or it is not clear from the statements that he/she meets the requirements, his/her application will not be considered.
    4. The personal data provided in the form will be used for purposes relating to application for the HKSES. It may be provided to government departments and other organisations or agencies authorised to process the information for purposes relating to the HKSES. Personal data on an unsuccessful applicant will normally be destroyed 12 months after rejection of the applicant’s application. Any misrepresentation or concealment of fact will lead to disqualification of application. Under the Theft Ordinance, Chapter 210, it is an offence to obtain property/pecuniary advantage by deception. Any person who does so commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 10 years.
    5. For applicants holding academic and/or professional qualifications obtained from any institutions or professional bodies, please attach copies of their diplomas/certificates, transcripts of studies and official documents stating the mode of delivery (e.g. full time/part time, on campus/distance learning, etc.) of the study programmes. To facilitate assessment of qualifications, the above documents on the prior qualifications obtained should also be supplied as far as possible. Please do not submit any originals of diplomas/certificates or other qualification documents to us.
    6. Applicants for research postgraduate programmes have to provide details of their research proposals by completing the Annex to the application form.
    7. Please print a copy of the completed application form for personal reference and note down the application number shown on the screen once the application has been submitted for future communications with the HKSES Secretariat. If an applicant is invited for interview, he/she is required to bring a passport-sized personal photo, the original letter of reference by the school principal or referee (unless the reference letter was submitted to us directly by the school principal or referee) as well as the originals of all documents in support of his/her application for submission to the HKSES Secretariat when he/she attends the interview.
    8. Unless otherwise exempted under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, applicants have the right of access to and correction of their personal data held by the Education Bureau. Requests for access to or correction of personal data should be made to the HKSES Secretariat at 7/F, East Wing, Central Government Offices, 2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar, Hong Kong.
    9. Apart from applying for the non-means-tested scholarship, applicants may also apply for the means-tested bursary. Only those shortlisted applicants who have indicated their intention to apply for the means-tested bursary in Part VIII of the application form will be invited to submit the application. The HKSES Secretariat will later invite those applicants to complete and submit the relevant application form, together with documentary proofs of their family income and assets, for assessment by the SFO. The means test will be conducted in accordance with the prevailing mechanism under the Tertiary Student Finance Scheme - Publicly-funded Programmes/Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-secondary Students of the SFO. For details about the means test, please refer to the General Guidelines to Application for Means-tested Bursary.

    Referees

    1. All applicants are required to provide information on two referees in Part VII(a) of the application for the HKSES Secretariat to, if necessary, refer to in respect of their applications. Referees are expected to be familiar with the applicant’s academic performance.

    Assessment by School Principal / Reference Letter

    For application in respect of undergraduate programme

    1. An applicant who is currently pursuing senior secondary education should request his/her school principal to provide a report on his/her latest academic performance at school, including an indication of the applicant’s relative position in the entire form, as well as to predict the grades he/she would attain in the coming public examination for his/her current curriculum. If the applicant has already completed his/her senior secondary education and has taken the public examination, assessment on academic performance by school principal is not required. However, all applicants of undergraduate programmes are required to provide a reference letter by his/her school principal or one of the referees filled out in Part VII(a) of the application form, covering strengths and weaknesses of his/her academic ability, personality, qualifications for the proposed study and suitability as a representative of Hong Kong to study abroad.

    For application in respect of postgraduate programme

    1. Applicants are required to provide a reference letter from one of the two referees filled out in Part VII(a) of the application form. For applicants of research postgraduate study, if the aforementioned reference letter is not issued by their academic advisors/professors, they are required to provide another reference letter by their academic advisors/professors. The referee should provide some comments on the strengths and weaknesses of an applicant’s academic ability, personality, qualifications for the proposed study and suitability as a representative of Hong Kong to study abroad. If an applicant is in the final year of undergraduate study, the referee should provide predicted degree examination results and class of honours that the applicant is likely to obtain in the reference letter.

    Deadline for the Submission of Application

    1. Application form has to be completed and submitted through the online application system at the HKSES website (https://hkses.edb.gov.hk).
    2. Eligible students who intend to commence undergraduate or postgraduate studies at world renowned universities outside Hong Kong starting from the 2020/21 academic year (i.e. during the period of August 2020 to July 2021) have to complete and submit their applications, together with all the supporting documents, through the online application system by 6 pm on 31 December 2019. Late applications (i.e. those submitted after 6pm on 31 December 2019) will not be accepted.
    3. For those supporting documents completed/written by third parties, e.g. assessment by school principal and reference letter by school principal or referee, such documents can be submitted directly by those third parties to the HKSES Secretariat via e-mail at hkses@edb.gov.hk. The relevant e-mail has to be issued to the HKSES Secretariat by 6 pm on 31 December 2019 with the application number of the applicant issued by the online application system duly quoted in the email. Besides, the applicant has to state clearly the type of documents that cannot be provided by the time of his/her online application and the reasons in Part X of the application form.
    4. If the choice(s) of university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) filled out by an applicant in Part II of the application form include those situated in the Mainland of China, Australia or New Zealand, the applicant may provide documentary proof(s) showing that he/she has already applied for the chosen university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s) in the Mainland of China, Australia or New Zealand within one month after his/her application for the chosen university(ies)/institution(s) and programme(s).

    Prevention of Bribery Ordinance

    1. The Education Bureau forbids its staff and the interview panel members from accepting any advantages in connection with the HKSES applications. Such offer may constitute a bribery offence.

    Enquiry

    1. For enquiries on matters relating to application for the HKSES, please contact the HKSES Secretariat (Tel: 3509 7395).

    Note: Links to websites provided in this Notes are valid at present (i.e. as at 2 October 2019). They may be subject to revisions anytime by the relevant organisations.

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