A controversial plan to charge higher fees for undergraduates taking science courses could be shelved, it was hinted yesterday. The University Grants Committee said more consideration was needed on whether it was the right time to impose different fees because of Tung Chee-hwa's policy to promote advanced technology. Proposals were put forward recently to charge undergraduates taking 'laboratory subjects' such as medicine and physics higher fees than their counterparts taking humanities courses. This is due to the higher costs of running science courses and the better 'earning capability' of the graduates. Committee secretary-general Nigel French said yesterday that it might not be a good time to have such a system. There were different fees in place until 1974. The idea resurfaced in 1996 during the rapid expansion of the higher education sector. Mr French said: 'If we ask science students to pay more, they might be discouraged from taking science courses. That might not be in line with the government policy to develop high technology.' Mr French also said the different fees system would have nothing to do with cost-cutting.