Hong Kong’s secretary for education, Michael Suen, is looking for Japanese students to study in the city.

“I am confident that our education reforms, open-door policies for overseas students and the modern city lifestyle of Hong Kong will continue to attract talented young people to our city,” Suen said at a seminar last week in a Tokyo hotel. “We certainly welcome more students from Japan.”

Suen led an education delegation of presidents, vice presidents and other university officials to Japan to showcase Hong Kong as a regional education hub. The delegation’s members also called for closer collaboration in education between Hong Kong and Japan.

To attract foreign students to Hong Kong, Suen said the government has established scholarships.

“There is a scholarship sufficient for them to do their studies and also to maintain their livelihood in Hong Kong,” Suen said during an interview with him and his delegation members.

The Hong Kong government has also eased its immigration and employment restrictions for foreign students.

Suen said Hong Kong, with its modern and diverse cultural blend of East and West and prominent location in the heart of East Asia, has a lot to offer students.

He said the city has world-class learning institutions. According to Suen, three universities were ranked among the top 50 in the world by the respected Times Higher Education Supplement in 2009.

However, delegation members expressed regret that only a few Japanese students are studying in Hong Kong. According to the Hong Kong government, nine Japanese students (five undergraduate and four postgraduate students) and 73 exchange students are studying in Hong Kong for the 2009-2010 academic year.

“I’m afraid, you know, the numbers are very small,” Suen said. “We’ve got plenty more room for (Japanese students), plenty more to come to Hong Kong.”

William Lee, associate vice president of Lingnan University, agreed.

“We want to see a lot more Japanese students coming over,” Lee said. “Nothing to fear. Come, you (are) welcome with open arms.”

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