Ah yes, it’s December already.
That means All I Want For Christmas is on repeat, shopping malls have had their Christmas deco up for weeks now, and if you were supposed to take your SPM, STPM, IB, A-levels or UEC and what not this year, chances are it means that you’re STILL studying. And if living thru the Covid-19 pandemic during the biggest exam of your teenage years isn’t bad enough, it also adds to the pressures of having to look for colleges and universities that you want to go to.
Now we’ve all probably heard it already if you have Asian parents: ‘Eh boy ah, exams get all A+ yeah, then can go Melbourne/Oxford/Singapore okay?’ But let’s face it, not everyone’s getting into Oxford; in 2016, only 17% of applicants to Oxford actually managed to get in. With exams to study for and universities to apply to, being in your late-teens can be a lot more stressful than boomers think so.
If you are one of these students though, you’re in luck, because we’re here to tell you about one of the fastest growing universities in the world: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
HKUST may be a young university, but it’s already one of the world’s best
Alright, you could be forgiven for not knowing about the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) before this, as they’re actually a very young institution, having only been formed in 1991 – heck, our Cilisos boss is even older than that!
Despite their relatively young age for a university, HKUST already has a growing reputation in the world, having placed 27th in the 2021 QS World University Rankings. That’s higher than some of the usual ‘Malaysian dream’ university choices; King’s College London for instance is just below at 31st, while the University of Melbourne finds itself 41st. It also finds itself at top spot in the Times Higher Education’s list of Best Young Universities 2020, edging out second-placed Nanyang Technological University from down south.
With ‘science and technology’ in their name, it’s no surprise that HKUST has a huge selection of courses in these areas for you to specialise in. Their School of Engineering is up there among the world’s best, and it’s not all just about lectures and tutorials either, as they have a strong background in research too. During the Covid-19 pandemic for example, HKUST’s research team almost immediately went to work, coming up with a portable testing device that can detect the virus in just 40 minutes in January:
If you’re someone who prefers rolling up your sleeves, they also offer a program called Integrative Systems and Design, where you don’t just learn by the books. Instead, you’ll get your hands dirty and learn systems design by working on actual projects. You’ll also have to learn to work with your teams, so basically… a taste of real life.
But what if you wanna learn even more than just what your science or engineering degree can offer? Well Mr/Ms Kiasu, HKUST also has degree programs with an extended major, called ‘Major+X’. Basically, it lets you take a traditional major such as engineering, and blends in emerging topics like artificial intelligence, allowing students to learn more in both foundational studies as well as groundbreaking areas of research.
If wheelin’ and dealin’ around the boardroom is more of your thing though, there’s also plenty of options in their School of Business and Management. The Financial Times’ Global Executive MBA Rankings placed the HKUST’s EMBA program at top spot this year, making it the 10th time that it has done so.
We also got the chance to speak to Jason Lew, a Malaysian currently studying marketing and management in HKUST, who had this to say about why he chose to study there:
“One of the reasons why I chose HKUST… was because of the reputation of Hong Kong as a financial center as well as its proximity to mainland China. As a business student, these components would definitely play a major role in the opportunity and connections that I would be able to obtain as a student studying in Hong Kong,” – Jason Lew, Malaysian HKUST student
You may be thinking that it sounds like the usual business student spiel, but in fact…
Their career center can help you find your first job fresh outta uni
HKUST has an on-campus career center whose entire job is to help you, the student, find a job once you’re out of university. They offer things like career building courses, recruitment events, career development programs and even a job board for you to check out the latest openings. What’s more, HKUST has got over 300 partners all around the world, so there is always something for everyone, be it research placement, internship opportunities or international exchange studies.
While the majority of HKUST’s programs (except civil engineering) do not require an internship as a core part of the curriculum, the university would still help students who are
kiasu hardworking enough to find internships thru the HKUST Internship Network. There’s even a year-long internship available where students intern at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, taking part in diplomatic talks with world leaders.
Chu Henn, another Malaysian studying computer engineering there, managed to snag himself an internship in New Zealand with HKUST partner The Bloom of Youth. According to Chu Henn:
“I had a 6-week long internship in an intermediate school in Auckland, New Zealand during the summer holiday in 2019. My primary responsibility was to provide academic assistance for students and teach STEM subjects.
During the off hour, I spent time with HK students who were participating in similar internships. We had Friday dinner sessions and trips across the country,” – Chu Henn, Malaysian HKUST student
It also certainly helps that HKUST has an incredibly diverse student body. Going back to Jason:
“My favorite thing is the community and the friends that I’ve met while studying at HKUST.
From the Malaysian community, to the internationals, and to the locals, they have been my pillar of support and joy while studying there for the past few years,” – Jason, Malaysian HKUST student
With one of the most diverse student bodies in the city, about 16% of HKUST’s students are from around the world (excluding mainland China). As such, life on campus is never really dull, with a number of student societies to dabble in – you could even join the Hong Kong Malaysian Student Association, which Jason founded! Meanwhile, for the more ‘artsy’ students, there’s also a Center For The Arts, where you can enjoy the more creative aspects. Heck, there’s even two bars on campus for students to wind down after their exams.
Jason also added that he was due to spend a semester abroad in the US as part of an exchange program. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and what not, HKUST understandably put a hold to any exchange programs for now. That being said, when things get better (hopefully), there are more often than not plenty of opportunities for students to spend time abroad.
Of course, on top of the career opportunities that HKUST provides its students with, there’s even more good news for Malaysians who are contemplating their further studies.
They’ve set aside MILLIONS in scholarships just for Malaysian students!
If you’ve made it this far into the article, the one takeaway that we’d perhaps like you to know is that HKUST is committed to supporting non-Hong Kongers who wish to study there. And for the upcoming intakes, they’re doing just that for us by providing a number of scholarships exclusively for Malaysians!
Right now, HKUST has already announced that up to 10 outstanding Malaysian students who apply to the university can get half or full scholarships worth up to RM300,000 for each recipient. You don’t even have to go thru the trouble of filling in extra paperwork; all applicants are eligible for scholarship consideration, and if you’re selected, they would let you know before you enroll.
Of course, it’s not just about getting straight As, because HKUST will also look for other criteria such as your extracurricular activities, awards you’ve won, international competitions you’ve participated in, as well as your entrepreneurial experiences.
On top of this special scholarship for Malaysian students, there are also plenty of other scholarships available, such as the Hong Kong Govt Scholarship or the Belt and Road Scholarship too. And the best part? Because of the trouble that Covid-19’s been causing to you, they’re making their Sept 2021 intake for undergraduates more flexible! What this means is that the application deadline isn’t a hard deadline. So if you’re a couple weeks late, don’t worry, just apply anyway! Buuuuut, if you wanna make sure you get a chance for an interview, apply by the 10th of Jan, 2021 yeah.