MAINLAND China is courting Hong Kong students following the return of the former British colony.
The State Education Commission has given leave to mainland universities and colleges to offer an unlimited number of places to Hong Kong students.
Li Haiji, director of the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs Office under the commission, said the mainland was encouraging closer university cooperation including academic and expert exchanges and talent training.
Mainland universities and colleges are expected to improve study and living conditions to attract students from Hong Kong.
However, the commission says entrance examinations will continue to be set at easier levels than for mainland students in keeping with the view that academic standards are higher there.
Hong Kong students can apply in April and take examinations in June at designated locations in Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, and Fuzhou and Xiamen in Fujian Province.
Educational cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland began in 1978 when Hong Kong implemented reform policies.
In 1985, seven well-known mainland universities including Beijing and Tsinghua universities began enrolling students from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao. Today, more than 1,000 Hong Kong students study in over 100 colleges and universities on the mainland.
The commission stressed that after graduation, all students will be free to return home and seek jobs of their own choosing.
Mutual recognition of academic degrees will be a topic of discussion between respective education departments.
More than 15,000 academics from Hong Kong have visited the mainland for educational purposes over the past two years. And more than 6,000 experts from universities managed by the commission have been involved in academic exchanges with Hong Kong in the same period.
Mainland universities and colleges enrol about 500 Macao students each year, taking around a third of graduates from senior middle schools in Macao, including 100 who are exempted from entrance examinations.