With applications from outside Hong Kong up 5% over 2020-21, the pandemic has not dented HKUST’s attractiveness as a further education destination for far-sighted international students. Returning for its second year, our informative Why HKUST? series focuses on overseas students from Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Malaysia, and so on. Detailing each students’ reasons for choosing us, their stories will equip younger readers with valuable insights into making the most of university life. Part one comes the learning journeys of our Thai students.
After graduating from his Thai secondary school, Phisitchai CHAVANACHINDA (Pierre) didn’t take long to select HKUST over the six other invitations he had received from universities in Thailand, Hong Kong and Canada.
“Although most Thais know Hong Kong as a vacation destination, many are unaware of the city’s reputation for quality education,” Pierre says. “My friends were all surprised to discover there were so many high-ranking universities here. They were even more impressed when they learned that HKUST’s courses were on par with those of top US universities such as the University of California, Berkeley and New York University for roughly half of their tuition fees.”
Engineering has long been Pierre’s passion. While Thailand produces many excellent graduates in the field, the common consensus is they lack sufficient commercial knowhow.
“While engineering remains my dream career, I appreciate that business skills and marketing expertise are also very important. This is especially true when pitching ideas to potential clients and investors. When I heard that HKUST offered a program that combined the two, I knew this was the course for me,” says Pierre, now a third-year student in HKUST’s Dual Degree Program in Technology & Management.
"Such student-friendly flexibility is rare in tertiary education. At one admission briefing at a Thai university, I was asked to choose a major almost immediately. Like most students, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do post-graduation. As a result, I was really attracted by how HKUST encouraged students to use their first year to explore various majors before committing to the one that most interested them.”
Pierre says HKUST’s cross-disciplinary program does far more than simply satisfy his need for a wider perspective in aerospace technology and business management. He was also impressed by the stimulatingly broad range of extra-curricular activities that encouraged students to explore solutions for the most pressing problems now facing our world. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), for example, challenged the then first year to enhance an aircraft’s fuel efficiency by remodelling it under the guidance of a senior faculty member.
“I never imagined I’d be able to contribute to a major research project while still a freshman. The experience was very fruitful and gave me a much better understanding of how to formulate truly effective research methodologies. I also came away with a much stronger grasp of aviation industry fundamentals. Rather than beginning and ending in the classroom, learning at HKUST is born of one’s personal passion and hands-on research experience.”
With competition for jobs in the 21st Century growing increasingly intense, early professional exposure is another measurable edge HKUST offers students applying for post-uni career posts. Pierre says that the blending of learning and industry insights has given him a much more adult perspective into the world of commerce.
“HKUST’s Business school regularly brings in big companies to work with students on real-life issue-focused projects and also provides plenty of internship opportunities. Ultimately, even the internship application process is an excellent learning experience as it sharpens one’s confidence and communication skills. Best of all, with dozens of clubs and societies where you can meet like-minded friends, life here extends beyond academic work and career planning. I’ve never been busier!”
After three years of exciting university life, Pierre says he has grown far better at leveraging his strengths and picked up several useful new career planning approaches. Although still passionate about engineering, he is now also contemplating other opportunities.
“My time at HKUST has unleashed the sociable side of me. I’m still discovering new sides to my personality and eagerly anticipate exploring possibilities in areas like consultancy, management or banking,” Pierre adds.
Similar to many Thai Chinese, Pierre’s family has business connections on the Mainland. He says studying in Hong Kong offers additional upsides for those wishing to tap into opportunities offered by the rise of Greater Bay Area.
Wadeelada THITISOMBOON (Nink) earned her place studying Chemical and Biological Engineering at HKUST through the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme. Upon graduation in 2021 the international exposure she gained at HKUST helped her land a plum job with a British household appliances company as a Characterisation Engineer.
“The fact that I was able to participate in so many global events and seminars during my four years here meant I got to meet many inspiring people – several of them Nobel laureates!” says Nink. “One reason the employer hired me is because of my expertise with a rheometer – an advanced piece of equipment I learnt how to use at HKUST.”
Learning, growing and preparing for one’s future are what university education is all about. Students at HKUST can choose from many internship opportunities with major companies in Hong Kong, the Mainland and abroad – especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or related business fields. The Hong Kong government’s STEM Internship Scheme also offers incentives to employers hiring STEM students, and HKUST students secured the highest number of job offers in 2020-21.
Prof. Ekkachai SAENYASIRI, Associate Professor of Business Education at the Department of Finance, says “As one of the world’s most important business hubs, Hong Kong offers a wealth of internship opportunities with top enterprises. Many students here complete several internships with multinational firms before graduation. All of which makes the territory an outstanding career launchpad for students looking want to expand their career choices globally.”
To learn more about HKUST’s programs and how you can best leverage our resources while unlocking your full potential, please watch the admission talk video.