Bad timing and a low budget for awards dampened enthusiasm for a new campaign to promote green issues among university students. The Environmental Campaign Committee and Shell Hong Kong have just launched an award to promote environmental awareness at universities. However, students are unsure whether they will be able to take part, since the competition falls in the middle of the exam period. 'We have to consider our time and manpower,' said Cheng Siu-fai, vice-chairman of the Promotion of Environmental Awareness (PEPA) group at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 'The competition takes place at the worst time for us - in the middle of the examination period.' Students from the Green World action group at Chinese University shared his reservations. 'Our society is still considering whether we will join the activity or not,' said Green World representative Sing Ying-Yu. 'Our main concern is the timing, as that is the examination period for every university.' The scheme invites student clubs and organisations to submit proposals for an environmental campaign or activity by March 16. Fourteen proposals, at least one from each university, will receive funding. The clubs must compile a report on their activity by June, when the top three projects will be decided. The winning groups will travel to Sichuan province to visit sites of environmental interest at Chengdu, Si Gu Liang Natural Reserve Museum and Woolong. A return visit will be made by mainland students. The chairman of the committee, Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, said the organisation would work hard to make sure projects were selected by the end of March so they could be carried out in April. However, for students other concerns remain regarding the low budget for the activities. 'I think if we do join the scheme we would have to go over budget because $4,000 is just not enough,' said Sing Ying-yu. The PEPA students agreed, saying they would have to contribute some of their own funds to the project if they wanted to do it well. However, organisers said they were sticking to the limit. 'We are going to be very strict on the budget,' said Wong Man-chiu. 'We want the groups to use every single cent in the most imaginative way. We don't want to see big dinners or banquets. We are looking for imagination.' Launching the project, founding chairman of the committee Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja said the competitive element and exchange visit were key attributes of the award. 'The students get a sense of satisfaction when they win something and the visit to Sichuan is an exciting experience, not only to see the environmental sites but also to liaise with their peer group of mainland students,' she said. The award is funded by Shell Hong Kong. Company director Robert Young Man-kin said it had realised the importance of demonstrating environmental sensitivity and had made sustainable development a central part of corporate strategy. 'We were attracted to this award because it is about environmental education. 'It is vitally important for young people to be aware of environmental preservation as they will be responsible in the future. 'What they learn now will determine their outlook throughout their entire life,' he said.