A proposal to extend higher education from three to four years needs careful examination as it would trigger huge costs, a senior adviser has warned. Antony Leung Kam-chung, an Executive Councillor and chairman of the influential Education Commission, had reservations about the recommendation, to be announced today. Heads of the eight universities and colleges will state at a joint conference their proposal to overhaul the education system to introduce five-year secondary, one-year matriculation and four-year tertiary education. The Advanced Level examination will be scrapped and students will be granted conditional offers to university places based on their Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination results. Mr Leung said he welcomed proposals from the public and heads of tertiary institutes. 'Tertiary education is an important part of education in Hong Kong,' he said. 'However, as Hong Kong offers higher education places to 18 per cent of its young people, the structure of education must also take care of the other 82 per cent.' He also said any change would carry significant financial implications. 'This has to be evaluated very carefully, given the medium term economic outlook.' Mr Leung said the change was a complicated issue and any review should be conducted in stages. The commission has appointed a taskforce to conduct the review. It will set education goals, identify different academic structures, recommend the one suitable for Hong Kong, and recommend future curriculum and assessment methods. 'Given the wide implications of any proposed changes . . . we will consult extensively in the course of the review and take into account views of different education sectors, including the schools and tertiary sectors,' Mr Leung said. 'We will also seek the views of other stakeholders such as the business and professional bodies, parents, students and the public.' The commission yesterday discussed setting up a general teaching council to regulate and register teachers. Mr Leung said members supported the idea of the council to promote the professional standards of teachers. A preparatory committee is finalising the proposals and a report will be ready next month.