A record number of students have applied to join logistics management programmes under the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) scheme this year. Applications for some programmes have increased by 400 per cent, believed to be a response to worsening unemployment and Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's insistence that the SAR must enhance its role as the region's major logistics centre. The number of Band A JUPAS applicants whose top choice was the global supply chain management programme offered by the Department of Shipping and Transport Logistics at the Polytechnic University (PolyU) was the most startling change, jumping from 183 last year to 789 this year. An undergraduate course on international shipping and transport logistics also at PolyU received 735 applications, compared with 414 last year, with 25 applicants chasing each of the 30 places available. The transportation logistics management programme offered by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) became its fourth most sought-after undergraduate course, with the number of Band A applications rising from 189 to 389 this year. 'Outstanding students used to consider only subjects like medicine and business, but the many rounds of layoffs have prompted students to explore some non-traditional options which allow for a more promising career development,' said Jimmy Ng Jim-mi, assistant professor of transport logistics at PolyU. The logistics and transport industry had been traditionally associated with low-grade jobs involving extensive physical labour, said Professor Ng, but globalisation and technological advancement had shifted the industry's priority from beyond the transport of goods to high-quality management techniques and high-value, low-cost services. 'The field guarantees a more secure career compared with other industries, since the flows of goods and services will not cease even in times of economic decline,' Professor Ng said. A PolyU survey showed that more than 90 per cent of graduates managed to secure a job after graduation last year.