Sixty percent of the 810 students who have been granted doctorate programs under the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme are from the mainland, while less than 10 percent are local students, Apple Daily reported.
The rest of the fellows were from other Asian countries and elsewhere, the newspaper said.
The study grants were launched in 2009 by the city’s Research Grants Council under the University Grants Committee.
The scheme aims to attract the world’s best and brightest students to pursue their doctorate degrees in Hong Kong’s eight institutions of higher education with funding coming from the committee.
It provides an annual stipend of HK$240,000 (US$30,941) and a conference and research-related travel allowance of HK$10,000 a year for each awardee for a period of up to three years, according to the committee’s website.
Through the scheme, the eight participating institutions are expected to boost their international standing.
The participating institutions are City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and The University of Hong Kong.
The quota of students for the scheme has been increased to 223 in the 2014/15 academic year, from 115 in 2010/11.
Data shows the number of applicants from the mainland has been increasing through the years, from 1,500 in the first year of the program to 3,000 in the most recent academic year. A total of 479 mainland students have been awarded the fellowships so far.
By comparison, the biggest number of Hong Kong applicants in the past five years was 219 in one academic year. So far, only 65 local students have been granted fellowships, or 8 percent of the total.
Professor C. Y. Jim of the Department of Geography at the University of Hong Kong said the reason why most winners are from mainland could be due to the fact that most western students are reluctant to study abroad while most Asian students tend to pursue their advanced studies in western countries.
As such, Hong Kong has a geographical disadvantage in competing for elite students, he said.
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