STUDENTS from Australia could be flocking to Hongkong to study, if university heads agree on plans for a two-centre degree during the Association of Commonwealth Universities' conference later this year, writes Rachel Clarke. Proposals to be discussed at the conference, to be held in Swansea, southwest Wales in August, will include allowing students to spend a year, or a semester, studying away from their home universities. Professor Don McNicol, vice-chancellor of Sydney University, believes Hongkong will be one of the top destinations in the Asia-Pacific region for students wanting to study abroad. ''We are looking at the idea of student mobility around the region, but not necessarily for them to spend a long time away,'' said Professor McNicol, who is here for the graduation ceremony of Sydney University's Hongkong students. ''At the moment, we are having Hongkong students coming to Sydney, taking a degree and going back home. What we are looking at is Australian students coming here for a semester and gaining a credit for their Sydney University degree.'' The academic thinks Hongkong will be particularly attractive to Australian students. ''Simply in terms of moving around and making yourself understood, here will be easier than Tokyo and other places, where English is not a prime language,'' he said. An agreement at the Swansea meeting will also allow Hongkong students to spend a semester or two abroad while working for a Hongkong degree, instead of the expensive option of taking the whole degree course at an overseas institution. The University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific Programme, initiated in Australia, encourages both staff and students to spend time working away from their own universities. Professor McNicol supports such plans and hopes Australian students coming to Hongkong will be able to gain the same benefits with which the territory's students leave Australia. ''I really should be sending more Australian students in this direction in order to even things up a bit,'' he said. ''Hongkong students in Australia not only get a degree, they gain self-confidence, independence and an introduction to another country and its culture. It is those extra things that you do not get if studying at home, and they are all very worthwhile.''