Business studies has emerged as a clear favourite of Form Seven students hoping to enter university in September. The subject is the most common in students' top three choices in Joint University Programmes Admission System (JUPAS) applications for every university. Students are required to rank subjects in order of preference in their JUPAS applications, and list in Band A their three most favoured choices. Business administration programmes are particularly sought after at City University, where the three most popular Band A choices are all business-related: information systems, accountancy or human resources management. The university received a total of 2,000 applications for the 261 places on offer. The top slot is also filled by Bachelor of Business Administration programmes at the Chinese University (CUHK), Lingnan University, Baptist University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Social work is the top Band A choice at Polytechnic University, with 918 applications. The choices have changed, in some cases dramatically, over the past month. Students were given two days to adjust their order of choices after they obtained their Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination results on July 6. Every year a significant proportion make changes to their choice of study programmes and institutions. Before July 6, the social science in communication programme at Baptist University was the top Band A choice, with 2,800 applications, but the number of applicants has now fallen sharply to 835. The number applying for an accountancy degree at City University has risen from 973 to 1,020. At CUHK, the medicine faculty comes second in terms of popular Band A choices, whereas at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the faculty of arts, social sciences and the business administration programme made up the Band A group. More than 4,000 students applied for HKU's business administration programme, second to the arts faculty which received 5,967 applications. HKU's acting registrar Henry Wai Wing-kun said programmes like medicine were popular but not as frequently chosen because of the high academic standards required for entry. Business studies had always been popular because of the brighter career prospects they offered in a financial centre like Hong Kong, he added. 'Students feel safer choosing them. They will not opt for choices for which the employment prospects are uncertain. 'They find engineering a more risky option because of the decline of the construction industry.' The Band A choices reflect a short-sighted attitude among students, said the associate dean of HKUST's school of engineering, Professor Pong Ting-chuen. 'They choose programmes on the basis of their chances of getting in, not their interests.' The numbers enrolled in computer science, electronic engineering and information engineering had been on the decline, he said, because of the collapse of Internet companies. 'Students are only concerned about the present labour market and have little perception about how things could be when they graduate.' But he predicted an increase in demand for combined Master's degrees in business administration and technology in the near future as society placed more emphasis on academic qualifications in these fields. He also believed Hong Kong needed to create more jobs in the science and technology sector. 'Now the job market cannot absorb many science graduates. But Hong Kong should develop the market, or we will be highly vulnerable when another financial crisis strikes.'