About 10 advocates of independence for Hong Kong marched around City University yesterday calling for a curb on the admission of mainland students at all universities in Hong Kong.
The protesters, from a group calling itself Hongkongese Priority, chanted slogans accusing the university of enrolling so many mainlanders that its academic standards had suffered.
"All universities should set aside 80 per cent of places for local students," spokesman Alan Au said.
"Universities in Hong Kong have been admitting way too many mainlanders, dragging down the quality of education."
Local universities should not recognise public examination results on the mainland because, Au claimed, many mainlanders cheated in those exams.
"Universities here should set their own examinations for mainlanders, to decide whether they are qualified to come," he added.
A spokeswoman for CityU said mainlanders made up only about 10 per cent of the undergraduate population, a ratio she said was similar to those at other universities.
Hongkongese Priority is the same group whose Chinese name was previously translated as Hongkongers Come First. It advocates the separation of the city from the People's Republic of China.
Four members, including a 15-year-old, were arrested on New Year's Day for breaking into the People's Liberation Army headquarters at Admiralty in December. Their trial is expected to begin at Eastern Court on May 19.
Yesterday's protest came after a mainland student at CityU posted a controversial message on Facebook, Au said.
He showed the South China Morning Post a copy of the alleged message, but the corresponding Facebook page could not be found online last night.
"Just because you cannot beat mainland students in exams, you people say we are stealing school places from you," it read.
"Shut up, you people with poor grades … I hope the whole world will know the mainlanders have beaten you both academically and in your careers."
Au said a curb on mainland students was necessary as their numbers were making it increasingly difficult for Hongkongers to find decent jobs.
A fellow member, who said he was reading for a master's degree of design at Polytechnic University, claimed that half of the students in some of his classes were from across the border.
"Because there are so many mainland students, the university has hired a lot of mainland professors. The quality of their teaching is really bad," he said.