Exchange FAQs

1. Are academic programs organized in a similar manner as North American institutions?

Yes, our academic programs are similar to those in North America. All undergraduate programs follow a semester system where Fall semester runs from 1 Sept - Dec and Spring semester runs from End-Jan/Beg-Feb to May. As an exchange student you are free to depart after finishing your final exams.

2. Will there be any academic areas from which I will be excluded?

Yes, there are some subjects which you may be advised not to take. These are primarily courses conducted in Cantonese with corresponding reading materials.

3. How do pre-requisites listed in the Calendar apply to Exchange-In Students?

Generally, pre-requisites are not strictly or automatically applied, but transcripts/grade reports are examined to ensure you are suitable for the courses you select.

4. Is accommodation segregated according to sex or is it Co-Ed?

Housing is co-ed, but rooms are single gender.

5. What are the rooms like?

Most rooms are doubles. Many of the rooms have spectacular views overlooking Clearwater Bay. The rooms are air conditioned and furnished with desks, chairs, bookshelves, closet space and beds (pillows, linens, and towels are not provided) Common facilities include bathrooms, showers, TV rooms, pantries with microwave ovens, telephones, and coin operated washing machine and dryers.

6. Is there Internet access in the rooms?

Yes, all rooms are wired for LAN internet access via the university network.

7. Can I use my 110-120v electrical appliances from the US or other countries?

No. Electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220-240v. You can buy small appliances such as hairdryers, curling irons, etc., easily in Hong Kong after you arrive. If you bring your own appliances make sure they are 220-240 adaptable.

8. I was born in Hong Kong and I have a Hong Kong ID card, do I still need to apply for a student visa?

If you have a Hong Kong permanent identity card, you will not need to apply for a student visa to study in Hong Kong.

To check if you have Permanent Identity status, look under your date of birth on your HKID card where you will see a series of letters. If the first letter is an A, this means you have permanent ID status. Sometimes, the letters are preceded by three stars ( ' *** ' ) Your card should also state 'Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card' at the top.

There are other circumstances in which you may not need a student visa to study in Hong Kong. For example if you have a valid Hong Kong dependent visa in your passport, or if under the date of birth on your ID card there is an alphabetical code starting with 'R' or 'U'.

Under these circumstances, it is best to contact the Hong Kong Immigration Department enquiry hotline and ask them directly whether you need a student visa: (852) 2824-6111.

In any other circumstances, you will need to apply for a student visa to study in Hong Kong. For more information you can refer to the Hong Kong Immigration website:

9. While studying in Hong Kong can I apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card?

Any non-local student, 11 years of age or above who intends to stay in Hong Kong for a period exceeding 180 DAYS can apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID) from the Registration of Persons Office of the Immigration Department within 30 days of arrival. The address is:

Hong Kong - 8/F Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai
Tel: (852) 2824-6111

Kowloon - 3/F Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices
303 Cheung Sha Wan Road
Tel: (852) 21507-933

10. While studying for the exchange semester, can I work in Hong Kong?

Almost certainly not. Most non-local students, without a HKID card, will need to apply for a student visa to study in Hong Kong. Student visas are usually granted subject to the condition that the student shall not take any kind of employment, whether paid or unpaid, during their exchange studies.

Please refer to the Guidance Notes of ID995A on the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website for more details.

Any foreigner wishing to work in Hong Kong needs a working visa, sponsored by an employer. 

11. What is the general nature of the population of Hong Kong?

The majority of Hong Kong’s 7 million people are ethnically Chinese, though there is also a large expatriate community.

The official languages include both English and Chinese. While English is commonly used as an official language and is almost always employed in business and government dealings, Cantonese is the dialect most often heard in the streets of Hong Kong. Many people in Hong Kong also speak Mandarin and the number of Mandarin speakers is now on the rise.

12. Will there be any opportunities for 1st-hand cultural experiences while I am in Hong Kong?

Yes, Hong Kong is culturally an Asian city with strong roots in Chinese tradition. Depending on the semester you will be attending at HKUST, there will be many festivals such as Chinese Lunar New year and Mid-Autumn Festival where you'll be able to experience Chinese culture first hand.

13. What are the predominant features of HK terrain?

Hong Kong is a mountainous coastal region in South China. It is divided into four major areas: Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands (approx. 235 isles). Certain urban areas of Hong Kong are among the most densely populated in the world.