Beijing and Tsinghua universities offer places to Hong Kong students provided they support Basic Law and 'one country' Beijing and Tsinghua universities have announced they will accept high-flying Hong Kong students without the need to sit an entrance exam, provided they support 'one country, two systems'' and the Basic Law - conditions slammed by an educator as 'the politicisation' of education. Kwok Ming-wah, director of the Beijing-Hong Kong Academic Exchange Centre, which handles mainland university applications, said students may not be admitted if they objected to the Basic Law and 'one country, two systems'. 'This is a central policy applying to all institutions, but it is up to individual institutions to decide whether they accept a student or not. We will not probe students' political stance unless they present a totally objecting view. 'Students will be tested on their academic knowledge, thinking skills, plus some side questions on the general current affairs in China instead,' he said. 'The essence of the requirements for Hong Kong and mainland students is to set a bottom line for citizenship and patriotism. It is reasonable for a country to expect citizens to be patriotic, like in the US.' But Chui Yat-hung, director of the Students Guidance Centre of Hok Yau Club, a non-government organisation providing youth study and career counselling services, said it was contradictory for a tertiary education institution to impose political values on students. 'One of the major goals of university education is to train up critical-minded, independent thinking individuals. It is improper for the two universities to include students' political stance as one of the admission criteria,' he said. He added that Hong Kong students would, in any case, probably be put off by the political agenda in mainland higher education. 'For example, students who want to study sociology, politics or philosophy may find that some politically sensitive doctrines are not taught in universities. 'Education should not be politicised because it is a pursuit of knowledge and values,' Mr Chui said. 'Despite the fact that Beijing and Tsinghua universities are the best two universities in China, Hong Kong universities still provide better exposure and international networks. I think students will prefer universities that offer them the best learning experience.' Democrat legislator Cheung Man-kwong called the patriotism requirements 'a joke'. 'It is a vague requirement and could mean an infringement of academic freedom. There should not be any barrier to academic pursuits,'' he said. This is the first time that Beijing and Tsinghua have agreed to accept Form Six students who have scored four As in the HKCEE without requiring them to sit the mainland university entrance examination. Each will offer 50 places for eligible students. Tsinghua has been steadily increasing its intake of foreign students, from 465 in 1999 to 1,023 last year. The largest student groups were from Korea (494), Japan (138), USA (69), Malaysia (42) and Indonesia (41). The two universities say the aim of the new policy is to prepare Hong Kong students for mainland careers. Hong Kong students will have to pay an annual tuition fee of 12,500 yuan, but they will also be eligible for fee exemption and a scholarship of 30,000 yuan a year. The two universities will offer seminars today from 11am to 6pm and tomorrow from 10 am to 6pm, at HK Convention Centre. For details call 2895 2260.