The Vocational Training Centre (VTC) has recommended that diploma students of its institutes be covered by the Government's grant and loan scheme. The initial reaction from the Student Financial Assistance Agency (SFAA) was 'positive', Mo Yun-ming, principal education officer of the academic secretariat of the Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), said. 'We certainly make every effort to fight for the best interests of our students,' Mr Mo said. 'I believe it is a good thing to do from the Government's point of view if more students can benefit.' Earlier, Mr Mo announced a new admission arrangement for the coming academic year under which more IVE students would be eligible for government financial aid. It reverses a system implemented only last year. Under this scheme, about 6,000 first year students were admitted to 'subject groups' last September without being assigned to specific courses. They will progress to programmes leading to diplomas or higher diplomas in September this year. These students are not eligible to join the SFAA as they had not yet secured a higher diploma place. Students of the eight tertiary institutions under the University Grants Committee are covered by the loan scheme. Under the new proposal, more than 5,000 students who were due to be admitted to subject groups this September will now join specific courses at the VTC institutes. Only the Design Subject Group, which comprises six courses with 360 places, would not be affected by the change. Mr Mo said the decision was made following submissions by the students who were under great pressure because of the keen competition for the limited number of higher diploma places. He emphasised that the new arrangement preserved the advantages of the original system that allowed students to be exposed to a variety of courses which helped them to identify their potential and interests. Those with good academic results could still request for a transfer from a diploma to a higher diploma course in the second year, he said. Mr Mo said IVE had set up its own Admissions Office at the end of last year to process applications after the abolition of the Joint Admissions Scheme for Post-secondary Institutions' Courses (JASPIC). IVE will launch a new course - Diploma in Child Care and Education - in the coming academic year. The IVE's nine campuses will offer 86 full- time post-Secondary Five courses providing about 10,000 places. Applications are now open and will be accepted until March 27.