Overseas courses registered in the SAR may not necessarily be recognised here, students were warned yesterday. The Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation issued the warning after receiving inquiries about the status of specific non-local qualifications. 'There is a general public misconception that registration means recognition,' said council chairman Dr Andrew Chuang Siu-leung. 'The council's assessment emphasises the comparability of the non-local course with the course in the home institution. 'The council has not assessed the academic standard of the non-local course per se. Hence registration does not automatically mean that the course is comparable or equivalent to the local academic standards accepted in Hong Kong.' All courses run by overseas institutes in Hong Kong have to be registered to protect the interests of students. Public concern over overseas qualifications was raised after some teachers complained to the Professional Teachers Union this month that their status had been downgraded. They had been told some degrees obtained at British and Commonwealth universities were not recognised by the Government. The Government later backed down and said the teachers could keep their grades. The grace period for non-local course operators to obtain registration under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance ended on June 1. So far the council has handled 245 applications for academic registration and 22 for professional registration. Sixteen of the applications were turned down and about 100 were approved with conditions. Most of the overseas programmes are from Britain, followed by Australia, the US, the mainland, Canada, Macau and Singapore. They included business or management courses, science and technology, computing, education, engineering and arts. Dr Chuang said the council examined admission standards, staff qualifications, teaching and learning processes, course content and quality assurance mechanisms before deciding whether a course should be recommended. But he admitted the qualification might not be recognised locally even if students finished the courses which had been registered. He added: 'We understand this may lead to misunderstanding. Students may be confused. We are discussing with the Government on how to sort out this problem.' The council would issue a list of programmes which had been assessed and recognised late this year.