cheaper to study at
Taiwan and Hong Kong are among the top eight Asian countries to study at. But which is cheaper for international students? Source: Sam Yeh/AFP

More international students are choosing universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Good performance in ranking, great teaching, job opportunities and some of the world’s most captivating cities draw thousands to these two countries every year.

But is one cheaper to study at than another? We’ll take a look below.

Taiwan is perfect for students interested in studying technology and innovation. This “Asian Tiger” country is famed for its tech industry. With mainland China influences, Taiwan offers its visitors a varied culture that blends both the traditional and modern.

Hong Kong has become a higher education powerhouse in the last few years with five Hong Kong universities ranked in the Top 100 for QS World University Rankings 2022. A former British territory, Hong Kong’s education is a mix of Western and Eastern influences.

At a glance, both Taiwan and Hong Kong provide plenty, but they’re far from the same — especially how much a degree in either will cost. The programme you choose to study and which city you live in will affect the overall cost of studying abroad. 

Tuition fees

cheaper to study at

In Taiwan, tuition fees are slightly lower compared to Hong Kong. Source: Daniel Suen/AFP

In Taiwan, tuition fees are slightly lower compared to Hong Kong. Though tuition fees at Taiwan universities are considered highly competitive, the average tuition fees for undergraduate and postgraduate studies range between US$1,650 to US$4,560 per year.

It’s always wise to check with your chosen universities the individual fees of the course you’d like to pursue. 

If money is an issue for you, look out for public universities in Taiwan that have lower tuition fee costs. 

Similarly, tuition fee costs in Hong Kong will also vary according to where you choose to study and your programme choice. On average, international students are expected to pay an estimate of US$11,500 to US$34,000 which is significantly higher than how much international students have to pay for a Taiwan education. 


Despite the staggering difference in tuition fee costs between these two countries, both Taiwan and Hong Kong offer various scholarships for international students studying undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD programmes. 

Students looking to Taiwan can either apply for government scholarships or through the respective universities themselves. There are two types of government-funded scholarships: degree or research. It’s worth researching your options in this regard. 

For studentson a budget looking to Hong Kong, scholarships such as HKU Belt and Road Scholarship and ADB-Japan Scholarship Program For Developing Countries In Asia & Pacific cover almost everything. Read here for more popular scholarship options. 

Cost of living

cheaper to study at

Accommodation costs are another big expense to consider for international students. Source: Isaac Lawrence/AFP

The next big expense to consider for international students is the cost of living. In Taiwan, the cost of living is approximately US$667.01 to US$863.19 per month and varies according to individual lifestyle preferences. Housing often add up to the living costs hence Taiwan offers students the option to opt for either on-campus accommodation, off-campus flats or a more unique experience by staying with a host family

Considering the high standard of life in Hong Kong, living costs are equally as high. Students are expected to budget between US$650 to US$2,000 per semester for student dorms. If opting for a privately rented one-bedroom, students should prepare to set aside US$11,466.00 to US$25,480.00 per year. Here are privately owned off-campus options students can consider.

Other living costs – transport, food and leisure are estimated to cost students an extra US$3,900 to US$6,500. 

Visa costs

International students heading to Taiwan have to apply for the Resident Visa if their programme is longer than six months or the Visitor Visa if their programme is less than six months. The Resident Visa fees cost only US$69.50. However, students are required to convert their visa for their Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) within 30 days of arrival in Taiwan. Universities would usually help students to apply for the ARC. 

Read here for the required documents needed for the Taiwan Resident Visa. 

Similarly in Hong Kong, students have to apply for a student visa which costs US$67.52. Comparatively, Hong Kong charges a slightly lower processing fee for visa applications. Check here for eligibility requirements for your Hong Kong student visa.