Baptist University will start a joint-venture campus in Zhuhai next year, targeting Hong Kong and mainland students. University President Ng Ching-fai revealed yesterday that the Ministry of Education had approved the venture with Beijing Normal University (BNU), to set up the BNU-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College at BNU's campus in Zhuhai. A 30-year deal was signed allowing the college's students access to BNU's facilities including the library, sports venues and hostels. The first student intake will be admitted in September of next year. Baptist University will build additional academic facilities on a 13.3 hectare site, which is as big as its Hong Kong campus for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Graduates from the college will be awarded Baptist University degrees. The Zhuhai campus will provide an alternative for Hong Kong students, since degree places are often limited at Baptist University's Hong Kong campus. Professor Ng is optimistic that mainland students will enrol at the college. 'The fees that we are going to charge, which may range from 70 to 80 per cent of the fees here, are not much higher than that charged by some private mainland institutions,' he said. The venture was also expected to enhance the university's postgraduate research capabilities, he said. In response to staff concerns that the venture could become a financial liability, Professor Ng said it remained to be seen how popular the college would be, though he expected student numbers to top 4,000 within four years. He said sub-degree students contacted by the university had indicated an interest in enrolling at the Zhuhai campus, given the cheaper fees and living costs. The university has a $100 million loan from its School of Continuing Education to finance the venture.