Students seemed disappointed at the Education Commission's apparent backtracking on the issue of a fourth year at the tertiary level. They also tended to support the view that it was the Government's responsibility to come up with the extra money. Germaine Chan Chore-man, 20, president of the Students' Union at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said students would benefit from a four-year undergraduate course. She was disappointed about the failure to offer a firm commitment to a four-year university system, saying that the curriculum was too rushed under the current three-year system. 'Since students are taking a common first year, at the end of it we have to declare which area we would like to major in,' Ms Chan said. 'It means that we only have two years to study our specialisation, which is too short. 'The curriculum is now so tight that we have to finish one chapter per week,' the accounting major said. Another advantage of a four- year university education was that students would find the academic experience more enriching. 'If the course ran four years, we could not only study in more detail, but also have a better sense of belonging to the university,' Ms Chan said. Lam Ho-ming, 21, president of the Students' Union at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the UGC was shirking its responsibility by agreeing that a four- year system was beneficial to students but refusing to inject more resources. The final year student, who is majoring in translation and Chinese, agreed that under a four- year system students could work towards strengthening their links with the university. 'University life is not only about learning, but also about acquiring other skills that cannot be taught in lessons, such as inter-personal and analytical skills and organising activities,' Mr Lam said. 'The call to change the present three-year system is getting louder than ever. The UGC cannot escape from the responsibility of providing quality education in the SAR anymore by asking the universities to sort out the problem themselves.' Leo Lee Man-Ho, a second year student of Chinese studies and geography at Hong Kong Baptist University, said it was hard to make sweeping generalisations about the advantages of a four-year curriculum because different subjects could be covered within different time frames. 'I think whether three years or four years is better depends on which subject you are actually taking,' Mr Lee said. 'For example, if you are talking about a medical course, it would be better to spread out the subject over a longer period of time. However, when it comes to subjects like social sciences I guess three years would be enough.' Financial considerations should not be overlooked either, he said. 'Quite frankly, if we didn't have to worry about the school fees, I would say we should all switch to a four-year programme. After all, it's a pretty good deal to spend one more year at university.'