The University of Hong Kong is close to completing its search for a new vice-chancellor, more than a year after Professor Cheng Yiu-chung resigned. Selectors identified two final candidates, both overseas Chinese, a source said. They were given a list of 1,500 names by a specially formed search committee last month. The selection process has been shrouded in secrecy, but the committee is due to decide on a final recommendation soon and to seek endorsement from the university council before Christmas. One committee member said the preferred candidate would be a renowned academic. Despite media speculation, it is known Harvard University mathematician Siu Yum-tong and Chinese American scientist Dr David Ho Ta-yi - the inventor of the drugs 'cocktail therapy' for HIV and Aids, for which he was named 'Man of the Year' by Time magazine in 1996 - are not the two final contenders. The committee is meeting student union representatives today to keep them up to date. Union president Biby Ngai Wing-yin said she would press for details of the shortlisted candidates at the meeting. The committee members include academics Lam Shui-kum, dean of the faculty of medicine; John Wong, chair professor of surgery; Chan Che-wai, chairman of the Academic Staff Association; and Enoch Young, the head of the university's School of Professional and Continuing Education. It also includes non-academic staff representative Stephen Chan Chit-kwai and council members Christopher Cheng Wai-chee, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, Mary Rodrigues and Henry Fan Hung-ling, managing director of Citic Pacific. The committee is headed by the chairman of the university council, Victor Fung Kwok-king. Professor Cheng was found last year to have tried to stop Robert Chung Ting-yiu from conducting polls on the popularity of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. Dentistry Professor Ian Davies was made interim vice-chancellor.