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Educated Immigrants Leaving Hong Kong, Research finds

University-educated mainland immigrants aren’t staying, according to research from Hong Kong Baptist University released today.

A research conducted by the Department of Economics, Hong Kong Baptist University and sponsored by the Society for Community Organisation has been released today.

Between 2007 and 2011, 40.2% of the tens of thousands of new immigrants to Hong Kong held a bachelor’s degree, but a third of them left before 2016, according to the report.

“The number continues to drop,” Yuk-Shing Cheng, Head of the Department of Economics at HKBU who led the research team, said in a press conference today.

“Immigrants with higher education have a higher mobility,” Lai-shan Sze, the Deputy Director of Society of Community Organisation, a local NGO that sponsored the research, said in the press conference, “They will stay if they can blend in, but leave if they cannot.” 

Although the government has policies to bring talent into the city, it has failed to retain them, the report said.

Prof Cheng said the government should focus on the coming generations as the research shows second and third generations have a positive impact on Hong Kong.

Younger new immigrants are more likely to go to university in Hong Kong, according to the report. Around 45% of new immigrants who came to Hong Kong before age nine obtained bachelor degrees. The number drops for older immigrants.

New immigrant Mandy Dai’s son, 32, is now an accountant in Hong Kong with a university degree, but it was a struggle for her to get him here, she said in the press conference. 

Mandy Dai (middle) migrated to Hong Kong in 2001.

Ms Dai, who is from the mainland, married a Hong Kong man, but it took 11 years for her to be allowed to move to the city. Her son, who gained residency in Hong Kong, attended school in the mainland until he was 11 while they waited for her one-way permit, she said.

“The one-way permit system can be better allocated,” Hongliang Zhang, Associate Professor in Economics and a member of the research team, said in the press conference. 

He added that parents, such as Ms Dai, who cannot come to Hong Kong immediately after their child has been granted a permit has caused problems.

Ms Dai said when she first arrived in Hong Kong, she worked as a street cleaner, as employers were not willing to employ a new immigrant, she said. 

“It is hard to find a job in Hong Kong,” said Ms Dai in the press conference. “The Labour Department does not recognise the working experience in China.” 

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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