Drawing on two surveys conducted before and after the 2014 Umbrella Movement, this paper discusses the dynamics of how Hong Kong (HK) university students constructed their own ideals of citizenship. The former survey reveals that HK university students’ ideas about citizenship were mainly associated with their visceral sense of HK belonging. They aspired to social movements as a site for learning and exercising citizenship. However, the findings of the later survey show that students’ sense of HK pride, identity, attachment, and interest in voting were in decline. Such changes were partially due to their feeling of political exclusion and disappointment, and partially due to their unpreparedness to make informed decisions or judgement in the contested political sphere. I argue that students’ experiences mirrored unresolved problems in HK politics and citizenship education, and have implications for the civic role of HK higher education alongside the global wave of youth activism. Copyirght © 2019 British Association for International and Comparative Education.