Expensive courses for Form Five students who performed badly in recent exams have been attacked as 'no more than hobby classes' which are unlikely to help them find jobs. Critics also fear that some of the 40-plus courses on offer - which range from how to run a florist's shop to basic nutrition - might be too difficult or useless for low academic achievers. 'How can a course teaching floral arrangement possibly be bridged to higher learning?' asked Ho Hon-kuen, vice-chairman of the concern group Education Convergence. 'Would it be giving false hope to the students after paying $30,000 for the tuition fee?' Mervyn Cheung Man-ping, vice-president of the Association for Continuing Education, said: 'Some of these courses like food safety and nutrition are quite specialised. And others like florist management or photography are no more than some hobby classes. Are they really useful for those who can't make even one grade in the examination?' The courses are offered at 10 learning institutes under Project Springboard, a government scheme launched this year. They allow for about 4,500 full-time places, most of which are likely to be filled by students who did not score well enough to be promoted to Secondary Six or even repeat Secondary Five at regular schools. About 21,000 students failed the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination this year. Students will be reimbursed 30 per cent of the tuition fee - which can be up to $30,000 - if they complete the one-year programme successfully. Mr Cheung said courses such as fundamental accounting, multi-media designing or basic commercial study would be beneficial to students. Another critic said he doubted whether employers would acknowledge students' qualifications under the scheme, or whether the courses would provide a link to further education. Chui Yat-hung, director of counselling service Hok Yau Club's Students Guidance Centre, said: 'I really doubt if some of the courses can serve to link students to the diploma or associate degree programme or to a job seamlessly.' But Baptist University's school of continuing education said the courses could enrich students' knowledge. 'We notice that female students are quite interested in floral arrangement and male students like photography a lot,' acting dean Simon Wong Chi-hon said. Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower Philip Chok Kin-fun said: 'We've done no market research or labour projection as to what courses should be operated. Institutes are allowed to design any courses. There's got to be someone who is interested in running a florist's.' Mr Ho of Education Convergence also feared instructors hired for Project Springboard might not be equipped to teach poor students. Teachers of the core subjects - Chinese, English, Putonghua, mathematics, information technology and human communication skills - must have a degree and two years' teaching experience. Mr Chok said a briefing session for teachers had been organised.