Where have all the top students gone?

July 20, 2023 09:59
Photo: RTHK

Four professions that used to attract the brightest local students to join were accounting, architecture, law and medical.

Seen as the most prosperous careers, it is said that most parents would advise their kids to marry someone in these fields.

Of course, that was before we used WeChat and Taobao. Now, everyone knows the importance of science and technology, which spells the future of Hong Kong and China.

However, it might not be reflected in the choice of our top students in Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams.

Only one of the four super top scorers picked science, while three still went for medical schools. At least two would stay in Hong Kong for further studies, according to local papers.

Medical schools are always the choice for top local students, at least for 40 years. I was from a boys’ school who often produced super top scorers. I figured one in 10 of my classmates ended up as a doctor – and our class was not the brightest among our generations.

Well, not all students would get their first education or career choice. But life goes on, and we learn how to live with what we have and make the most of it.

But it is fair to say the career choice might have become more difficult in the past years. A notable drop has been seen in the law school applications because, as we witness, there has been a significant change in interpreting the rule of law in Hong Kong.

And speaking from a journalism school lecturer for eight years, the number of applicants for the school of communications dropped significantly as well in the past years.

At one school I used to teach, the applicants dropped 90 per cent in the past few years because journalism is a typical “high risk, low return” choice, to borrow a financial jargon.

That said, the journalism school seemed to attract more young mainland students who fancy working in the exciting new media.

Those who opted for financial sectors might be thrilled to know the local banking and insurance sectors are still booming.

Wages for new recruits in the two sectors are said to be up 30 per cent, according to Natixis, who estimated there were 4,000 unfilled jobs in the industry.

The primary reason is China, where financial institutions are fighting to get the money from the wealthy middle-class who want to get more returns and protection by investing overseas.

Although the stock markets are still weak, the quest for talents never stops. After all, Hong Kong is still an international financial centre.

Before Hong Kong’s aspiration to become a science and technology hub is realized, perhaps it is easier to follow where the top students would go. With that, medical science is a good bet. Hong Kong always has a role to play between the western medicine and the eastern population.

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EJ Insight writer