Faced with a worsening epidemic, stricter visa requirements and expensive online courses, students looking overseas are having a tough time making concrete plans.
The crux of the matter is that there is no hope of taking an overseas internship or traveling, as students usually do when they defer university admissions and take a gap year.
At the same time, the horrific outbreak in Hong Kong has seen students left with few prospects if they choose to stay.
The latest data from the census and statistics department showed that unemployment in the SAR has worsened to more than a 15-year high of 6.2 percent.
But continuing to study locally without giving up on an overseas degree may now be an option.
The City University of Hong Kong is now offering short-term admissions for students enrolled in degree programs at foreign universities.
Students who are adversely affected can continue their studies or research at CityU as visiting students.
Those enrolling in a postgraduate program with a recognized university can apply for admission, which is open throughout the year, as visiting research students to pursue part of their studies at CityU.
The minimum study period for visiting research students should not be less than two months and the maximum study period is usually one year.
Each visiting research student will be attached to a department responsible for supervising the student's study.
Departments will assign a faculty member as the supervisor, who will provide academic advice and guidance on the student's progress.
Visiting research students may undertake taught courses as regular students do - with fees calculated on a credit unit basis charged for the courses taken and also a research component fee of HK$1,170 per calendar month.
Coursework assessment results will be recorded in the academic report issued to visiting research students at the end of their stay.
Hundreds of courses offered by 25 programs are also available to visiting undergraduate students.
Tuition fees are charged on a credit basis, which is HK$2,800 per credit for local students and HK$4,000 per credit for non-local students.
Students can apply for testimonial or academic transcripts after the study period.
The deadline for undergraduate application for the first semester in the 2020-21 academic year has been extended to August 3.
Postgraduate courses and programs are also open for applications, with students offered two modes of registration: regular and auditing.
In regular registration, students are required to fully participate in the course, such as attending lectures, tutorials and seminars, and completing coursework and examinations.
Those who successfully complete the course and fulfill the program's unit requirements will earn the credit units for the classes and receive a certificate of completion.
Credit units earned through regular registration can be transferred if a student subsequently gains admission to a relevant postgraduate program.
For the auditing mode, students are required to attend lectures, tutorials and seminars only.
Upon fulfillment of the attendance requirement for a course, the student will be issued a certificate of attendance, but no credit units will be earned.
Both visiting undergraduate and postgraduate students will be admitted provided the course unit requirements are satisfied with their academic ability and places are available in the lecture groups.
CityU believes the move will help students stranded by the pandemic.
"The world is experiencing unprecedented challenges and rapid changes in its social, economic and public health situation," said CityU president Way Kuo.
"Amid the challenges, CityU continues to commit to nurturing and developing students' talents and we do our best to help those whose study plans are adversely affected by the pandemic," he added.