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This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
You may take courses in a full range of academic fields (with the exception of the clinical courses in the faculties of Medicine and Dentistry, which are not open to exchange students).
Chinese (Cantonese) language study is not required, but is recommended, as Cantonese is the primary language of Hong Kong. Former UCEAP students have commented that knowing just a little Cantonese made a big difference.
- Minimum of 22.5 UC quarter units per semester (27 HKU units), five courses.
- The majority of your courses (minimum 50%) must be taken in the faculty to which you are admitted (usually two or three courses per semester).
Note: The Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) does not count Chinese language courses when calculating if you meet the 50% requirement. If you are taking Chinese language, you may take two courses from FBE, two courses from other faculties, and your Chinese language course. FBE encourages exchange students to take Chinese language, therefore they added this flexibility. Chinese language courses do count toward your minimum 22.5 UC quarter units.
UC quarter units are based on University of Hong Kong units. Courses are either 6 or 3 HKU units. 6 HKU units equal 5 UC quarter units and 3 HKU units equal 2.5 UC quarter units. You will take between 27 and 30 HKU units (22.5 to 25 UC quarter units) per semester. This is 15 to 16.7 UC semester units for Berkeley and Merced students.
Instructors usually distribute syllabi and reading lists at the beginning of the course. Group projects are common in business administration and other disciplines though they are not typical in the humanities.
While courses are taught in English, Cantonese is the language used in dormitories and on the street, and it may also be used in tutorials, labs, and studios. Some basic Cantonese will facilitate your interactions both in classes and in everyday activities. Lecturers may have accents that are difficult to understand. Before finalizing course enrollment, make sure you understand the main lecturer in each course.
You are expected to study independently, do the background reading, and incorporate class work and reading in your written papers. Some courses involve fieldwork, practical experience, or lab work. Student-centered inquiry and problem-based learning are encouraged. At the same time, be prepared for more memorization for exams than you may be accustomed to at UC; local teaching style emphasizes the repetition of lecture material on written quizzes and exams.
Courses are taught in English except for the Department of Chinese. Courses in the Department of Chinese are taught in either Cantonese or Putonghua. If you wish to take such courses, you must be fluent in both written and spoken Chinese.
Chinese language study is offered at HKU through the Chinese Language Center
. Cantonese as a Foreign Language (CHIN9511) has been taken by many UCEAP students and is recommended if you do not speak any Cantonese.
Course Numbers and Levels
HKU has various numbering schemes, including:
- Numbered by year and level: 1000 first-year courses are lower division (with very rare exceptions); 2000 may be lower or upper division depending on the content and if they are in the 3-year or 4-year curriculum; 3000 and 4000 are upper division and generally have strict prerequisites.
- Course numbers that start with 0 are advanced courses with prerequisites in most departments.
- Courses listed as beginning or advanced. Beginning courses are lower division and advanced courses are upper division.
- Common Core (CC) courses are broad interdisciplinary courses that are usually lower division, with a few exceptions.
- Courses codes that begin with Y (YSCN, YEDU, etc.) are broadening courses and are lower division. Avoid putting these courses on your proposed course list as they will not be pre-approved. You may register for these courses during the add/drop period.
When completing the HKU application, carefully choose your courses and make sure you fulfill the courses’ prerequisites. If no course changes are required after arrival at HKU, you will sign a form agreeing to all the courses selected before arrival and your courses will be listed online in the HKU course selection system. This is the ideal procedure; however, changes are possible during the add/drop period. If you need to change your courses on arrival you will go through the add/drop process. There is a risk of not getting enrolled in the new classes and this is a very time-consuming and often stressful process.
You must complete your final course selection within the HKU add/drop period. You will need to exercise patience when registering for courses.
Most courses include mandatory tutorials in addition to set lecture hours. Registration procedures for tutorials will vary among faculties and may entail: registering for the tutorial time slot during the first lecture; signup at the faculty notice board; or online registration. It is very important to attend the first two sessions of any class you may want to take to learn the specific tutorial registration procedure and to ensure that tutorial time slots do not conflict.
Grading at Hong Kong institutions reflects the rigorous academic standards. Grading curves are very rare. If you apply yourself and adapt to local practices and expectations, you can earn good grades. Be aware that grades assigned by Hong Kong instructors are likely to be lower than you are accustomed to receiving.
Your academic progress will be assessed by methods that include fieldwork, laboratory assignments, individual and group projects, quizzes, exams, and any other criteria relevant to the particular course. Course attendance and participation may also be considered.
Most exams are in short answer or essay format. Class participation may be especially important in seminars and in courses that have tutorial sessions. You are required to attend class regularly, take all exams given for courses in which you are enrolled, and submit all written work for each course to the satisfaction of the instructor.
Language course grades are usually based on periodic quizzes and tests, homework assignments, class performance, and a final oral and written exam. You must attend every class unless you receive permission to be absent. Classes are small and absences will affect both your personal progress and grade for the course.
The University of Hong Kong releases unofficial grades to students via the HKU portal about one month before official grades are sent to the UCEAP Systemwide Office. You will receive an email from HKU when this is done.
UCEAP cannot report grades to the UC Registrars until the official transcripts are received.
Official fall grades are usually available in mid-March.
Official spring grades are usually available from early August through early September.
Early grades are not possible.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Travel to Your Host Country
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
There are Hang Seng Bank, Bank of East Asia, and HSBC branches at HKU. The campus branches are open Monday through Saturday and provide normal banking services.
The HKU Computer Center and the student amenities centers provide computer terminals. The Computer Center has a full range of facilities, with both Mac and PC computers with up-to-date software and campus Intranet and Internet access. You can sign up for an HKUSUA account upon arrival, which will allow you to use the networked PCs in the various amenities centers and labs.
Color and standard printers are available for a standard fee. The main computer lab (located in the Shaw Building) is open 24 hours a day, and a help desk is available. You may take your own laptop and use HKUACE (Access Everywhere Network) from various locations on campus to access the campus network. There are also wireless LAN access points at many locations on campus.
There are multiple dormitory options. You will receive your mailing address after arrival in Hong Kong.
There are thirteen halls, eight that are directly administered by the university and two that are financially and administratively independent. The residence halls provide housing to over 3,000 undergraduate students. About a quarter of HKU’s full-time students reside in these halls. Nine of the halls are coed, one is for women only, and three are for men only. Most halls are located within either a short bus ride or walking distance to the main campus. The nonresidential halls serve as meeting places for student groups such as sport teams, “high meals,” or study. Each hall has a warden or manager to assist with the administration of the hall and several tutors.
"HKU dorms are close to the campus. They are normally very tall apartment buildings with shared bathroom and shower facilities. The common rooms are nice and security is very good." - UCEAP Student
The Residence Halls differ in size, cost, location, and amenities due to university availability and resources, but are usually quite pleasant and a convenient distance from the campus. All rooms are air-conditioned. Each room has a bed, mattress, wardrobe, writing desk with a lamp, chair, bookshelf, network connection, and a shared phone line. Residence halls usually have shared bedrooms (doubles or triples). You will most likely share a room with local students.
Common rooms, such as bathrooms, lounges, laundry facilities, recreational facilities, and quiet study rooms are available. Communal bathroom and toilet facilities are provided on each floor. Each floor has its own pantry and is equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, hotplate, water boiler, and drinking fountain.
You will need to pack or buy your own bedding and towels upon arrival. While most students purchase these items after arrival, you may want to bring a twin-size sheet set and a towel to get started. The rooms are cold during January and February, so you will want to purchase additional blankets or quilts at that time.
You will be responsible for cleaning your own room and the common rooms—the cleanliness of these areas will be determined by the cleanliness of the tenants. While the university’s facilities are generally modern and convenient, it takes time to adjust to the new living conditions. The halls are kept in sanitary condition but may not be as clean and well-furnished as facilities at UC
HKU requires an online housing application. The application link is provided on your Predeparture Checklist. When choosing a hall, read the HKU online descriptions carefully. The various halls have different and distinctive identities and activities, attracting specific types of students. You should choose one that meets your interests. Regardless of which hall you live in, you will be expected (by your fellow hall residents) to fully participate in all hall activities.
Go to the HKU website
for specific residence hall descriptions and information. Each hall also has its own website.
You may indicate hall and roommate preferences on the housing application, although preferences cannot be guaranteed. HKU determines final assignments, and notification will be sent to you via e-mail prior to departure.
Charges for undergraduate halls last year were HK $5,000 to HK $10,000 per semester. Fees are subject to change for this year. Some halls have mandatory meal plans, which cost around HK $6,000 to HK $8,000 per year. Not all meals are covered in this plan. Charges for other hall-related costs, such as hall association fees, the key deposit, high table fees, etc., are paid with the rent at the beginning of each semester. HKU recommends that you budget HK $1,000 to HK $2,000 per semester for other hall-related fees.
You will pay rent in Hong Kong dollars directly to the residence hall or to the housing office, depending on the hall policy. You must make your own housing payments (even if you are on financial aid). If you live in the residential hall for the academic year, you will pay hall charges in two installments (one in October, and one in January). If you participate in a semester program, you will pay the entire semester’s rent on arrival.
You are encouraged to arrive during regular business hours on the Official Arrival Date so you can easily check into your room. If you arrive in Hong Kong before then, you may have to pay additional fees for your room for that time (pending availability) or arrange temporary accommodations. See the UCEAP program calendar for details.
It is highly recommended that you live in the halls to get the most out of your experience. However, you may seek permission to live elsewhere. UCEAP and HKU do not provide assistance with outside housing. It would be your responsibility to research all options and understand the leasing terms.
Three major restaurants are located on the main campus, in the student centers below Swire Hall and Simon K.Y. Lee Hall, and in the Chong Yuet Ming amenities center. Meals cost between HK $20 and HK $40. You can choose from a menu of Chinese or Western dishes, as well as a variety of sandwiches and drinks. The restaurants are crowded around lunchtime, so plan your schedule accordingly. Off campus there is also a wide variety of reasonably priced restaurants, food stalls, coffee shops, and even a McDonald’s.
If you have special dietary restrictions (for health or religious beliefs, for example) you may find that the offerings at the restaurants on campus do not meet your needs. You cannot cook in the residence hall, but grocery stores for snacks and drinks are available nearby.
You will have a special opportunity to meet and discuss various issues with prominent individuals from different sectors of the Hong Kong community during the high table dinners held at the residence halls. These are traditional, formal events. Participation in the high table dinners is mandatory for residents and fees are assessed.
"Take some dressy clothes and shoes for high table dinners at HKU. Once a month, each hall eats a formal dinner together while listening to speakers." - UCEAP Student
Students with Disabilities
University Health Centers
University health centers serve as primary care facilities and provide clinical services to all local and international students. The host university is not responsible for any charges incurred for visits with a private physician without a referral from a university health center physician.
HKU provides primary health care through a clinic located in the Meng Wah Complex on the main campus. Preventive care and other services, such as dental treatments, are also available for a standard cost. When specialist services or hospitalization is required, students are directed to public clinics and government hospitals nearby.
There are steps you can take to manage or minimize risk. Stop and think. Inform yourself of risks you can encounter while traveling. Remain aware of your surroundings. Cell phones and Ipods can be distracting. When you remain aware of your surroundings your instinct will alert you to conditions or persons that are potentially unsafe. Trust your instincts.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
UCEAP Contingency Planning
The University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.