THE OPEN UNIVERSITY of Hong Kong is catering to more young learners by diversifying its face-to-face programmes in September. The traditional distance-education provider is due to rent space in a Housing Authority-owned premises near its Ho Man Tin campus to be used as additional classrooms for the programmes. It had a target intake of 500 for the new offerings, on top of the 500 first-year places for the existing full-time programmes, said vice-president (academic) Danny Wong Shek-nam. 'Our mission is to help learners who have missed university education the first time and we want to diversify the kinds of courses available to school graduates,' Professor Wong said. 'Right now, the degree programmes offered on a self-financed basis are mainly in business administration and IT.' The Open University's new programmes will include a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in language and translation, or Chinese language and culture, a Bachelor of Business Administration in human resource management, or international business, or logistics and supply chain management, and an honours in nursing. Students will have the option of combining full-time studies with distance learning, but they will be encouraged not to have more than a quarter of their courses done through the distance mode. 'This is because young learners may not be as ready for self-learning as mature students,' Professor Wong said. He said students would still benefit from the distance-learning mode, as they would have access to a large variety of elective courses developed by the Open University. 'It is good, for example, for social science students to be exposed to diverse subjects,' Professor Wong said. The candidates for the face-to-face programmes will be required to meet certain admissions requirements, contrary to the Open University's open entry policy which allows anyone aged above 17 to enrol regardless of their academic background. All future applicants for the new programmes will be interviewed as well. 'We want to make sure that students in the same class have homogeneous ability. We are not looking for students with lots of As or Bs, but rather those who are motivated for continuous studies,' Professor Wong said. Like other Open University students, they will also have the flexibility of completing their degree in a maximum of six years, or opting to graduate at the sub-degree level upon completion of a certain number of credits. 'We offer a through-train system with multiple exit points for students. About a quarter of our sub-degree graduates move on to degree studies later. In fact, many students are not satisfied with a half degree,' he said. The Open University has formed an academic alliance with seven local institutions entitling their sub-degree graduates to degree places at the university. The institutions are Polytechnic University's Hong Kong Community College, Hong Kong Computer Institute, Hong Kong School of Commerce, Hong Kong Learning Community College, YMCA College of Careers, Caritas Bianchi College of Careers and the Vocational Training Council. Students can get an ordinary degree in a year's time at the Open University. Those hoping to get an honours degree will have to study for one more year.