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【SCMP Education Post:Study in the UK】One of a kind HK student – one of a kind School

Boarding 101


When an exceptionally bright student joins an exceptionally nurturing UK independent School, endless rewards, a lifelong love for learning and a continuous string of achievements and successes can ensue. This was certainly the case when Hong Kong’s very own Hans Chan lit up Christ’s Hospital School and subsequently received awards for his scientific prowess. Hans revealed all about his remarkable educational journey to Britannia StudyLink  …

 Hans Chan is one Hong Kong student now reaching for the stars thanks to a UK boarding education. Christ’s Hospital School, located in Horsham, West Sussex, has one of the most diverse student bodies in the country. It also provides more bursaries than any other independent school. Clearly, Hans’ potential was well noticed during the School’s rigorous selection process.

Now a student at Imperial College London – his first-choice destination – Hans’ began to show his promise as a scientist as a Sixth Form student at Christ’s. He was awarded “Best Sixth Form Chemist and Joint Overall Award Winner” by the Thames Valley Society of Chemical Industries amid fierce competition from pupils belonging to thirty schools in three southern English counties. Hans’ research on cryogels and his extended essay on the bioavailability of oxygen caught the judges’ attention.

Undoubtedly, Christ’s Hospital played a huge role in Hans’ progress and achievements. Speaking to Britannia StudyLink, Hans was quick to praise his Science and Maths teachers “who were staggeringly enthusiastic about their respective subjects, which was almost contagious …” He was also grateful to his mentors for recognising his enthusiasm and guiding him towards the targets that he had set himself, such as acceptance onto the Nuffield placement scheme and getting into Imperial College. Although personal interest took Hans down the science route, he also spoke highly of teachers from other departments at Christ’s who are “equally talented and able to induce interest”.Another of Hans’ extraordinary achievements was being accepted onto the Nuffield research placement scheme in 2015. There were 500 applicants for the 20 placements. During the summer holidays, Hans spent four weeks in the University of Brighton’s research labs assisting esteemed doctors with their research of cryogels and their use in water purification. Subsequently, Hans wrote a technical report on his findings and presented these during a symposium at the University of Brighton. He was later presented with a CREST gold award, the highest achievement, for his independent research placement.

Christ’s also helped to shape Hans Chan – the writer. For his Awards and Nuffield research conducted in the University of Brighton, Hans is grateful to his CH mentors for getting him into shape as “scientific literature follows a very specific objective format that presents observations and draws likely conclusions, different from most writing”. Furthermore, writing “without being bound by simple facts, but impartially about facts”, a difficult skill to master, is another technique Hans learned at Christ’s. Finally, in his report written for the Nuffield Scheme, Hans included an Appendix summarising his views on scientific academia, scientific malpractice and the “harshness of getting funding”. Hans dedicated such a courageous move to his CH education and the “critical thinking and the ability to critique about injustice, vice and sometimes folly” he picked up during his remarkable educational journey.

Moving on, Hans spoke admirably about the essence and value of a British boarding education. Firstly, he talked of how boarding at Christ’s helped him to “shift to a healthier balance between solitude and socialising”. Indeed, friends for life are there to be made and because children spend so much time with fellow boarders, “you turn from friends to soul mates and you tell each other everything”, as Hans so elegantly put it. Aside from making friends, a British education also stresses inclusivity and the delivery of a co-curricular programme where activities help to hone skills which can be put to the test in the classroom and later in life. Hans was quick to note that Christ’s “has a lot to offer and I did my best to …gobble up these opportunities. Skills such as leadership, self-management and presenting are among some of them”. Based on Hans’ experience at the University of Brighton, these acquired skills proved to be indispensable.

Hans went on to illuminate the nature of a British education thus: “A British education … places a lot of emphasis on all-round, holistic learning. You seldom learn about just one area of knowledge, and areas of knowledge are seldom judged based on their practicality.” Wise words indeed as there does seem to be a lack of prejudice and a plethora of choice in Western education which allows a greater flourishing of academics.  As Hans said: “Of course you have the choice to specialise, such as doing A-levels which match your interest, but I was certainly encouraged to learn about other subjects at CH partly because they complemented my studies …”

Hans’ modesty seemingly knows no bounds and is thoroughly admirable. Although he patently is a crackerjack scientist, Hans does not claim to “excel in chemistry in any shape or form”. Instead, he dedicates his successes to the “brilliant staff” at Christ’s who stimulated his interest in science. This story makes me proud to be Samuel Chan – the British school placement specialist.


Samuel Chan is the Managing Director of Britannia StudyLink.