Tuition Industry In Hong Kong

Tuition Industry In Hong Kong

Celebrity tutors in Hong Kong including the economics tutor have made headlines recently for making multimillion dollars per year. One of them is Chinese language tutor Lam Yat-yan, who famously received an open letter in 2015 from Modern Education, the very first publicly listed tuition school in Hong Kong. The offer from Modern Education then was a four-year contract promising an annual income of HK$85 million. Lam rejected the offer, citing “good partnership” with his employer Beacon College, which later became the second publicly listed tuition school in Hong Kong.

Beacon College offers a wide range of tuition classes including math, English, science and economics tuition classes. It was not mentioned in the media reports Lam’s annual income from Beacon College. Modern Education’s 2017 Annual Report revealed the incomes of its top five tutors ranged from HK$2 million to HK$10.5 million. A highly sought-after economics tutor was also reported to make millions of Hong Kong dollars every year from teaching economics tuition. This makes Hong Kong the most desired city in Asia for all tutors including the economics tutor.

Hong Kong’s Tuition Market

According to a market survey in 2016, there were more than 6,000 schools providing tuition classes for primary and secondary students in Hong Kong, with their fees ranging from HK$150 to HK$200 per hour. Students in Hong Kong would attend at least one tuition class for each subject every week. Apart from regular tuition classes, some schools also offer “extensive” and “exclusive” courses to prepare students for their examinations. Apart from math, English and science, most tuition schools in Hong Kong also offer economics tuition classes to prepare students for their examinations. An economics tutor may charge a higher hourly fee for his two-hour economics tuition.

Another survey in 2012 found that more than 50 per cent of 325,498 secondary students in Hong Kong were enrolled in tuition. The percentage was slightly lower for primary students.

Competition for Limited University Places

With a population of 7.4 million, Hong Kong is one of the most populated cities in the world. There are only nine universities under the Joint University Programmes Admissions System in Hong Kong, offering a total of some 17,000 places. Every year, only 30 per cent of the cohort will be accepted into these nine universities. To vie for the limited places, parents are under pressure to send their children to attend tuition classes in a bid to boost their grades. According to local media, 70 per cent of the DSE (Diploma of Secondary Education) candidates spent an average of HK$1,000 per month on tuition classes such as math, English, science and economics tuition. An economics tutor may conduct one to one or group economics tuition class based on the individual requirements.

A 25-year-old university student attributed her academic success to her economics tutor. She attended the economics tuition classes at Beacon College for four years. It was with the economics tutor’s help that she eventually obtained a ‘B” in her A-Level examinations for the subject of economics and succeeded in getting into a university. She was not alone. All her classmates attended the economics tuition classes conducted by an economics tutor to boost their grades.

The booming tuition industry is not a unique phenomenon in Hong Kong. Across the border in China, close to 37 per cent of the primary students in China attended tuition classes in 2014. The percentage was as high as 90 per cent in some first-tier and second-tier Chinese cities. In South Korea, 90 per cent of secondary students undertook tuition classes, based on a study in 2012. This figure is expected to be even higher now.

Linda Geng

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