The president of the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) wants the adult learning provider to be included in the credit transfer system involving the eight publicly-funded institutions. The government last month endorsed a universities credit accumulation and transfer system (CATS) as part of its reform package for higher education. OUHK, a public but self-financing institution catering mainly for working people, is not covered by the CATS scheme. But its president, Professor Tam Sheung-wai, said his university had much to contribute to the scheme as it had a wealth of experience in handling credit transfer. 'We have credit transfer agreements with 400 institutions around the world and have a databank on the kind of content, level of knowledge required for the equivalent of a degree subject, or academic requirements for various qualifications such as a degree or higher diploma.' Other institutions should also recognise OUHK credits, he added. Students, for example, could take foundation English courses through OUHK, saving universities the costs of running remedial classes at their English centres. 'This is one way for universities to save money while government funding for them is declining. Our middle-level foundation course would qualify students for the qualifications obtained from the university exit test,' said Professor Tam, adding OUHK would hold discussions with the University Grants Committee on its involvement in CATS early next year. The only problem for OUHK, should many students decide to take English courses, would be the need to find more English tutors, he added. A common credit transfer system would give university students access to a dual-mode system of learning, combining distance with campus-based learning. 'Some students who have been studying via the distance mode may want to go back to full-time studies.' He cited the example of Athabasca University, a distance-learning institution in Alberta, Canada, where most of the students also study full-time elsewhere in the country. 'Dual-mode learning will become more popular in the years to come,' he said. OUHK courses should be treated the same as those in publicly-funded institutions, he added, given the government's decision to give the UGC responsibility for co-ordinating the development of the degree-awarding sector, which includes OUHK. Deputy registrar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lee Shu-wing, said it was open to the idea of students taking courses at other institutions. 'It is up to individual departments to decide which credits should be recognised,' he said. OUHK saw a 3 per cent drop in total student enrolment to about 25,000 in April, compared with the same time last year. Professor Tam attributed the decline to the poor economy.