More than half the students who applied to universities and colleges through a central admission system have failed to win places. A total of 30,205 students took part in this year's Joint University Programmes Admissions System, but only 12,903 offers will be made today in the main round for the 1998-99 academic year. These students will include more than 100 who are not academically outstanding but who excel in other areas such as sports, music and the arts. The government-funded tertiary institutes have for the first time agreed to allow each secondary school to nominate three students who have talents in non-academic areas. Henry Wai Wing-kun, deputy registrar of University of Hong Kong, said the institution had received 149 such nominations and 41 were admitted. 'Most of these students are good in sports and have represented their schools in inter-school contests. Others are good at music, or have leadership skills,' he said. The Polytechnic University has accepted 26 students through secondary school nominations. Angela Wong Lau Suet-ching, the university's assistant academic registrar, said half the 116 nominees failed to meet the university requirements, with many of the students failing English language or Chinese language A-levels. Cecilia Wong Chan Wing-wah, spokeswoman for the joint admission system office, said students could check the office Web site or call the hotline (2803 2200) today to see whether they had been offered places.