AN American practice that allows undergraduates to take courses at other colleges is gaining popularity in the SAR. Some universities are planning to join forces and offer courses jointly, which will cut costs and boost co-operation. The move was prompted by the University Grants Committee's hint that it plans further cuts in higher education funding between 2001-02 and 2003-04. Universities, which are expected to submit funding requests by October, are exploring ways to streamline management and cut costs. One option is to form an alliance to let students take courses at different colleges under a credit unit transfer system. It aims to minimise the opening of new courses by a university when similar courses are offered by other colleges. Credit unit transfer is popular in North America. Hong Kong Institute of Education deputy director Dr Pang King-chee said it planned to join with the University of Science and Technology to offer teacher-training courses to the university's mathematics or computer students. Students might have to take some courses at the institute's Tai Po campus, according to the initial plans. Dr Pang said it would explore more ways of co-operating with other universities. Lingnan University president Professor Edward Chen Kwan-yiu said his university hoped to co-operate with the Baptist University to expand its science courses. At present, Lingnan does not have a science school. City University president Professor Chang Hsin-kang said he had included inter-university co-operation in the university strategy-planning report, but warned against going too far. 'It would be absurd to think we can have a university specialised in English and then all students will go there to study English language only,' he said.