I'm sure you are right that its easier to just cut at the base. But this harms the genuine expats who are living overseas, thinking to move to HK, and trying their best to secure a school spot for their kids. This is why current ESF procedure is unfair. They are taking the short cuts. Yes there may be more admin work to do it correctly, but thats what the admin dept is for, no?
So under ESF logic, expats who are thinking to move to HK have to actually move here first, settle in an area, then apply to only the ESF schools within that area and hope for the best. Whereas from the expats point of view, they would prefer to sort the school before moving, do as much planning before leaving their home country, and make sure their kids are looked after properly.
Really a very simple change to the ESF application process can make things much fairer for the expat thinking to move to HK. But yes, I do understand why they dont bother because they are already way oversubsribed. If I was a school administrator, Id probably take the short cut too and cross anyone off the list who looked like giving me and kind of headaches