Jun 19, 2020 07:13 PM

Hong Kong Universities See Chance to Lure Doctoral Candidates Amid Covid-19 Disruption

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen) holds its 2020 undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 31.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen) holds its 2020 undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 31.

Top Hong Kong universities are launching new scholarships to attract high-caliber doctoral candidates whose plans to study overseas have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) announced Wednesday the establishment of a new “Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship Scheme,” which offers HK$216,300 ($27,900) a year and an award of HK$80,000 to candidates with “outstanding academic performance.”

Eligible applicants must have been “offered a full-time Ph.D. place in a top overseas university for the academic year 2020-2021,” but changed their plans due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, CUHK’s website said.

City University of Hong Kong also released its Presidential PhD Scholarship scheme on Tuesday, offering up to HK$1.56 million for a four-year doctoral program in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Candidates for the awards include those who have received admission offers to study STEM subjects by top global universities, but have either not accepted or have declined the offers, the college’s website said.

The University of Hong Kong also encouraged doctoral students affected by Covid-19 to apply for its Presidential Scholarship. Students are required to submit admission offers from another top universities, if any, when applying.

Moreover, several of the region’s universities have pushed back the deadline for doctoral scholarship applications, with the deadline for the 2020 to 2021 academic year, with most now set at late June or early July. Candidates were typically required to submit their applications by the end of the previous year.

Since the pandemic began to sweep the world, several countries popular with international students such as the U.S., U.K. and Australia have shut down university campuses, sent their students home and moved classes online.

Also, several countries have restricted who can enter from overseas as a precaution against cases being imported from overseas.

Australia will likely keep its border closed to travelers until next year, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said recently, but will relax this restriction for students or other long-term visitors.

The U.S. Department of State suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates on March 20.

In the wake of these measures, 57% of global applicants surveyed said they had changed their plans for studying overseas due to the pandemic as of March 26, according to a report published by QS World University Ranking.

Contact editor Joshua Dummer (

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