The on-going recession has not dampened people's enthusiasm to upgrade their qualifications. More than 5,000 adults have applied to study degree programmes at the Open University of Hong Kong starting next month, according to a spokesman. The number of applicants was similar to that of the last semester earlier this year. In a poll carried out by the university in June, more than 70 per cent of respondents said they were planning to study for a degree to upgrade their job skills and qualifications. At the same time, 40 per cent of the surveyed students were adversely affected by the economic slow-down and found it hard to afford the tuition fees. The university has taken steps to alleviate their plight by reducing the rate of increase, and asking for a $100 million government grant. 'The government's positive response will help relieve the pressure of students and encourage hesitant applicants to make up their mind. 'I believe the walk-in registration scheduled for early September will thus be warmly received,' the spokesman said.