Hong Kong: A Case Study in the Global Rise of Private Tutors

According to a report by Polaris in April of 2022, private tutoring has been rapidly increasing in popularity for many years. This trend is predicted to continue with even more force, as the industry is projected to double in size and popularity by 2030. So why is private tutoring gaining popularity, and which countries around the world are hiring tutors the fastest? Private tutors are common throughout the world, but the demand for private tutors is almost twice as high in Asia than other continents. In a study from 2004, 73.8% of students in China had a private tutor. By focusing on the landscape of private tutors in Hong Kong, we will explore some of the possible reasons for the differences in tutoring around the world.

To begin, we will look at some of the main reasons why families and students are choosing to hire private tutors. A private tutor can be transformative to a student’s learning journey, as the tutor can customize material, answer questions, scaffold review sessions and offer additional resources. Students typically hire tutors for one of two reasons: to support their learning in a current course, or to help with standardized test preparation. 

Around the world, many families are hiring private tutors to support their child’s standardized test preparation, but if they are hiring a tutor to support course work, it is often with math classes. However, based on a report from 2003, Hong Kong was unique in that a significant portion of private tutors in Hong Kong were hired to assist with English coursework. This could be because of the bilingual nature of the school system in Hong Kong, as well as the emphasis on scores for tests such as the IB English exam. 

The market for private tutors in Hong Kong is unique for a number of different reasons, not only for its high demand for English tutors. Below are some highlights that seek to offer insight into some of the reasons why private tutors are sought out more often in certain places over others.

Educational Experience in Cities: Across the world, we see higher rates of tutoring within cities instead of rural areas. This could be because cities have a higher population, but it could also be because of the unique educational landscape of cities. Cities have a broader range of schools, from public to private schools of varying sizes, which creates more difference in educational experiences. These inconsistencies with school experience could lead more students to seek private tutoring in order to catch up to their peers at neighboring schools. 

High Competition: Hong Kong is a city with a highly competitive education system, and the demand for private tutors is exceptionally high. In fact, Hong Kong is thought to be one of the top 10 most competitive regions in the world. In a world where students are competing against their peers to earn top marks or enter into private schools, private tutors in Hong Kong offer one advantage. 

Specific Exam Focus: Similar to the US and the UK, Hong Kong’s education system places a significant emphasis on standardized exams such as the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. As a result, many private tutors in Hong Kong specialize in preparing students for these specific exams, offering targeted coaching and resources. Recently, studies in the US are uncovering the true benefit of private tutors on test scores. For example, for students interested in taking the SAT—a major entry exam for US universities—help from a private tutor increases scores

As we have seen, examining the unique world of private tutoring in Hong Kong offers a helpful model to understand tutoring around the world. Especially as the world is still navigating the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to education, we are going to see demand for private tutors increase even more rapidly. As tutoring businesses grow alongside demand, it can be beneficial to seek out small tutoring companies, which can give you and your family a more personalized experience. 

Aegis Advisors has a team of experienced and committed private tutors in Hong Kong and online who can help you in a full range of subjects across all major curriculums. Contact us today to see how we can help.


Private Tutoring Market Size Global Report: https://www.polarismarketresearch.com/industry-analysis/private-tutoring-market

Student responses on tutoring: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Students-motives-for-taking-or-not-taking-private-tutoring_tbl4_257788733

2003 study of Hong Kong: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272775703000323#aep-section-id8

Study of overall effects of tutoring: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0883035522000271 
Washington Post says tutoring increases test scores: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/05/09/can-coaching-truly-boost-sat-scores-for-years-the-college-board-said-no-now-it-says-yes/