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Scholarships: A helping hand?

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

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As the tuition fees at prestigious international schools continue to rise in Hong Kong, it makes sense that families look for ways to subsidise the significant costs. Schools value the breadth and expertise of their own student cohorts as education experts agree that enrolling high-performing individuals from a range of backgrounds can have a powerful impact on a school’s overall success.

Prospective parents should be aware that scholarships are often a vehicle for schools to create their ideal mix of students. It can sometimes be better to target a school seeking to bolster numbers in a particular year group or discipline rather than relentlessly pursuing the typical, high prestige pathways.

Up and coming international schools have launched merit based scholarship and means based bursaries. Malvern College Hong Kong offers academics, arts, sports and music scholarships. Dr. Robin Lister, Founding Headmaster of Malvern College Hong Kong explained, “they are open for anyone to apply for and the intention is to attract some superb academics, sporting talent, artists and music scholars. This will help ensure that the school is able to excel in these areas – and provide role models for the rest of the pupils too!”

“Our scholarships are both means based and merit based. We are obligated to provide scholarships as part of our licensing agreement with the EDB. We are anxious to receive applications for the scholarships available and are looking to meet and interview prospective candidates,” says Mr John Jalsevac, Director of American School Hong Kong.

Rewarding excellence

Competing for a selective scholarship can be stressful with the odds stacked against the applicant and so many talented students jostling for that golden ticket. However there are usually a range of disciplines to choose from – including ‘all-rounder’ scholarships – so it’s important to tailor your application appropriately.

“Celebrating excellence lies at the heart of a Malvern education,” says Dr. Lister. “Whether this means celebrating academic achievement or success on the sports field, on the stage or in the art studio, it is our emphasis on educating the whole person that defines Malvern. That is why we have created academic, music, sport and art and design scholarships.”

Like many other schools, the maximum level of award can be up to one hundred percent of the tuition fee remission.

“For merit based scholarships we are prepared to consider candidates who can demonstrate prior academic excellence,” says Mr Jalsevac from ASHK, “or candidates who have considerable background or outstanding talent in the arts, sports or leadership realms.”

Push for diversity

Information on these pathways is not always readily available and many families would be pleasantly surprised by the breadth of financial support packages on offer. One extraordinary scholarship addresses the need to promote intercultural understanding.

“Malvern College Hong Kong is seeking to build an internationally diverse pupil population and we see this as a key focus of our mission,” says Dr. Lister. “We aim to build a vibrant and diverse learning community, cultivating in each young person an openness to cultural diversity and a keenness to learn from alternative world-views and identities. So, we have created a Diversity Scholarship to award the pupil who can demonstrate what they could offer to enhance Malvern’s international dimension.”

Bursaries: an important starting point

Hong Kong has one of the world’s biggest wealth gaps, so it’s imperative that opportunities are created for those who could not otherwise afford access to world class facilities and pedagogy.

“Bursaries are available to families in need of additional financial support including non-local (international/expatriate) families who are not receiving any educational allowance from their employers.”

“For means based bursaries, we would want to see some type of supporting documentation which serves to shed light on the financial challenge a family would face to send a child to our school. The needs of each family varies, so we will depend on their situation and offer the level of support.” says Dr Lister.

Typically, academic scholarships start in Year 7 (first year of high school), though scholarships for sport and music can often start during primary school, such as in the ESF system at Discovery College and Renaissance College. Scholarships are also available at both of these schools for existing students once they reach Year 11.

Whatever the approach, families need to ensure they are completely aware of the timelines for application, which are often up to twelve months in advance. They should also manage their expectations and not make financial decisions based around the prospect of scholarship, as this places undue expectation on the child. And the likelihood of acing an entrance test or panel interview under that kind of pressure are hardly worth wagering a year’s fees.


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