Chaos takes toll on study hopes

Editorial | Mary Ma 22 Nov 2019

It's probably the first time the University of Cambridge has canceled local interview sessions for Hong Kong applicants.

But it's an understandable decision by the management as it would be irresponsible to ask professors and teaching staff to take the risk of coming over to Hong Kong not knowing whether they would be suddenly exposed to tear gas and petrol bombs.

Cambridge has told The Standard that interviews can be conducted via internet tools like Skype instead of asking applicants to fly to Cambridge or a city in the region for face-to-face meetings.

Only the very top students have a chance of securing an interview so I imagine most of those affected would be only too willing to fly to Cambridge to meet the professors who will be supervising them.

Although Cambridge has reportedly assured applicants they will not be disadvantaged as a result of the move, it is inevitable that those affected will have a sense of uncertainty.

In light of Cambridge's example, no one should be surprised if other prestigious universities also cancel their interview sessions in the SAR.

Meanwhile, I am alarmed - though not surprised - by reports that a number of Hong Kong university students as well as some professors and teaching staff have applied to universities in Taiwan for probable transfer.

I am not the least surprised because this is only logical.

My feeling is that institutes of higher education in other popular destinations including Britain, Canada and the United States will have received similar enquiries from Hong Kong students - as long, that is, as their parents have the means to support them studying overseas.

But I am alarmed by the trend reported by Taiwanese media since it is highly likely that those applying for the transfer will eventually also apply to permanently settle there.

This will become a new channel for Hongkongers eager to leave the SAR to start a new life elsewhere in light of Hong Kong's worst post-war crisis sparked by anti-extradition law protests.

This is exacerbated now that America's' Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is on course to be signed by US President Donald Trump after the House of Representatives voted 417 to 1 in support of the Senate's version of the act. It's a pity because these youngsters are among the city's brightest minds.

Given the extremely high threshold of emigrating to Western countries, Taiwan has emerged as an alternative for many people keen to leave here.

Taiwan immigration talks have been reportedly fully booked since June, with social media celebrity Stephen Shiu Yeuk-yuen joining the move in recent weeks.

Months after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor opened the Pandora's Box, people are casting their votes on foot.

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