University students hoping to pay for their textbooks with a summer job this year will run into unprecedented competition. For the first time in five years, Hong Kong University recorded a drop in the number of offers of part-time work placed through its careers education and placement centre. It has about 1,400 summer jobs, but the placement counsellors predicted more than 5,000 students would apply. Acting director of the centre, Leung Kai-hung, said yesterday job offers were down 25 per cent on the same period last year. Last year, it handled 1,800 summer jobs, which was 13 per cent more than 1996. 'As well as fewer jobs, the monthly salary has remained unchanged in two years, at about $6,000 to $8,000. The jobs from government departments offer better pay, at about $8,000 a month.' He said most of the jobs this year were from the Government. Others came from airline or airport-related companies, probably because of the opening of Chek Lap Kok Airport, he said. Mr Leung warned students not to focus only on salary, but the experience they would obtain. Peter Wong, a second-year student, said he would try to join a private school as a tutor this summer. 'I always avoided such jobs in the past years because of their boring nature. I don't like teaching. But this year I wouldn't mind taking it because of the poor economy,' he said. 'I don't have much choice. I need to do summer jobs to earn money. I need to pay for my school fees and textbooks. And I am not sure I can obtain grants and loans from the Government.' The Consumer Council and Labour Department warned students to be careful of job offers in modelling or investment which have turned out to be attempts to cheat students desperate for work.