It is not the fault of the universities that they are part of an elitist system bequeathed by the British. Even after the expansion of the past few years (closely modelled on the expansion of universities in England), the SAR provides higher education for only 18 per cent of its young people. However, history is no reason to reverse the tide of reform to suit the tertiary sector at the expense of the 82 per cent of the population who do not go to university. The proposal to abolish A-levels, cut matriculation to one year and offer university places on the basis of HKCEE results would set high-school education back to the 1970s. The idea is to extend higher education courses from three to four years by creaming off second-year matriculation students - that is to say seventh form or upper sixth pupils in their second year after the HKCEE exams - and taking them on as freshmen at university. However, with no school-leaving qualification beyond HKCEE at 16, pupils who failed to get into university would have no incentive to remain at school. The proposals would have the effect of slashing matriculation intakes, lowering general education levels and demoralising those who do wish to finish high school. It would also undermine employment prospects and destroy any chance of finding places at universities abroad. To see the proposal as a reflection of an isolation from the real economy and the needs of the population at large is not to take a negative view of the idea of introducing four years of university education. Similar systems have been in place in Scotland and the US for many years, although arguably there might be more to be gained by adding an extra year at the end of the current three-year course rather than at the beginning. If the freshman year at university teaches nothing that would not previously have been learned at high school, it would add little. What is in question is not the quality of university education alone, but the quality of the system. The proposals as they stand may help a few top students in the first years. In the long term, the risk is that they put many more young people's development at risk. Improving educational standards is always a good thing, but it should not be done solely to benefit a minority.