Institutions establish formal ties to ease flow of students to their campuses American universities are seeking to recruit more students from Hong Kong through formalised links with tertiary institutions here. Representatives from 22 institutions were briefed on the local scene by educators at a seminar last week, organised by the Hong Kong America Centre and the International Institute of Education (IIE). They have also explored the possibility of setting up links with associate degree (AD) course providers, so that graduates of those courses will be given second- or third-year places in the US. IIE director Katherine Fung-Surya said Americans were aware of the acute demand for university places among local AD graduates. Only a small percentage have access to degree places each year. Most of the agreements now are with British or Australian universities. Ms Fung-Surya's group was helping to create the template for similar agreements for American institutions. Shamus McGrenra, senior associate director (office of Graduate admissions) of St John's University, who was on an Asian tour with representatives of the Linden group of higher education institutions from across the States, said his university was hoping to form links with one or two local counterparts initially to ensure quality. They also wanted to reach out to mainland students through Hong Kong. 'Large comprehensive universities in the States are branching out to China, where the number of students is mind-boggling. But it is exceptionally important to establish a name recognition or brand here first,' he said. DeAnza College, a community college known for its large number of graduates admitted into universities in California each year, including the prestigious University of California at Berkeley, plans to enrol AD students. Elizabeth Blanchford, an international programmes specialist from Montana State University, which has signed agreements with four institutions, said some local courses were impressive. But she dismissed the idea of offering offshore or top-up programmes and having their courses delivered here. 'Our faculty are already overtasked. As a public, state-funded institution, we are not looking for private ventures and have no interest in selling our name. Doing a top-up is much about selling your name,' she said.