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Tuesday 14-Jun-2016
【The Standard:Study in the UK】Hard work versus privilege

The figures and evidence being churned out by some of the UK's most prominent Commissions and research groups still point to a privately educated elite continuing to dominate professions such as law and journalism.

Yet another meeting with education expert Jeffrey Tam led to a discussion on the matter.


Tam and I get on well. Both of us are admittedly ambitious, both attentive to the needs of local families and both seeking ways to give something back to the citizens of Hong Kong. Our views may not totally align but there is clear mutual respect.


It quickly became clear to me that Tam is very much in the "learning can get anyone, anywhere" camp. I cannot refute his stance.


I agree that those who work hard, even if they are from poorer backgrounds, have a chance to make something of themselves.


I, for one, admire children from less well-off families, and with minimal resources, who enter top universities and go on to have fulfilling careers.


Having said that, over the years I have came to also realise the fact that children from wealthy families do seem to have a clear head start in life - particularly if they study abroad.


The schools and universities they study at tend to dictate the quality of career they go on to have.


A friend working in a multi-national company's human resource department has informed me that UK/US graduates dominate the top roles.


In the UK, Oxbridge candidates secure the best jobs. For instance, some 54 percent of the country's most renowned columnists went to Oxbridge. And around 61 percent of the UK's best doctors are educated in the independent school sector.


Tam is right in the sense that hardworking students from poorer backgrounds deserve to be given a chance. Related to this, we should praise schools in Britain such as Eton which sponsors a free school, Holyport College.


Holyport has adopted the same pastoral and educational expertise as Eton and offers a healthy proportion of places to children from poorer homes.


There must be something in a private education if our politicians, lawyers and wealthy businessmen continue to send their children overseas in droves. Perhaps it is the alumni network they have built from school playing its part.


However, the good news is that this evident inequality may be easing in the UK with an increasing proportion of those from non-fee paying schools landing top jobs - particularly in politics.

Samuel Chan is the managing director of Britannia StudyLink. 

Original source:

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Education Experts

Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.


Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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