Nearly 5,000 students who sat the first Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination in April made plans to study overseas, a survey shows.
The Education Bureau said 7 percent, or 4,900 candidates, of those who took the HKDSE - which replaces the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination - said they would study abroad.
The number is four times the 1,200 students - or 4.5 percent - who made the same plans after sitting the HKALE last year, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim told legislators yesterday.
Education consultants said more students this year inquired or decided to study overseas than in previous years likely because they were worried about the results or were seeking better education.
"This is quite true - that more senior form students are studying abroad compared to past years," International Studies Service Centre administrative officer Ada Tam Tsz-wai said.
"But generally more prefer leaving Hong Kong in junior forms, from Secondary One to Three."
Tam added: "Sitting for a totally new exam, some worried about getting dissatisfactory results, while others left for better education even if they obtained excellent grades."
Britain, Australia and the United States are the most popular destinations, Tam added.
Global Education group director and general manager Peter Wong Ka-yin said there are 10 percent more Secondary Four to Six students studying abroad this year.
The bureau also said university places remain insufficient.
This year, 70,300 sat the HKDSE while 31,300 took the final HKALE. But only 38,000 government and self-subsidized degree places were offered, even though 26,400 HKDSE and 18,200 HKALE candidates met the universities' basic requirements.
Meanwhile, at least six self-subsidized associate degree programs have admitted excessive numbers of students.
The most extreme case involved the HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education, which admitted 5,353 students even though it only had 3,901 places.