Detailed plans were unveiled this week for the first Chinese university to be created through a partnership between universities in Hong Kong and mainland China. United International College (UIC), to be built in Zhuhai over the next two years, is a joint venture between Hong Kong Baptist University and Beijing Normal University. It will cater for students from both Hong Kong and the mainland. Professor Edmond Kwok Siu-tong, vice-president designate of the college, said the new venture marked a 'major milestone' in the development of higher education in mainland China and Hong Kong. 'I want to stress that this is not a branch campus of the Baptist University of Hong Kong, nor is it a branch campus of Beijing Normal University. This is a completely new university that is being jointly established by the two universities,' Professor Kwok said. The college would offer four-year degree programmes based on Baptist University's courses but adapted for the mainland, Professor Kwok said. Classes would be taught in Putonghua and English, the certificates being conferred by Baptist University. Baptist University president Professor Ng Ching-fai provoked an angry response when he announced the project last year. Staff feared the college could become a financial drain on the university. Professor Kwok stressed the project would not involve any public funding or require further investment from the university. It is being funded with a $100 million loan from the university's private School of Continuing Education. The first phase of the campus - to be built next to BNU's Zhuhai campus - is scheduled to be completed in summer 2006, and the college is already gearing up to court students. For the coming academic year, it is offering five courses - two BBA programmes and three BSc courses. Classes will initially be held in the BNU campus. The second phase will be operational by 2007. But UIC students will continue to have access to library and sports facilities in the BNU campus. Professor Kwok, currently history professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the college expected to attract 500 to 600 students in its first intake. The majority would be entering the first year, but around 100 associate degree holders from Hong Kong were likely to enter directly into the third year of courses in September. When the college reaches its full capacity, it will cater for around 4,000 undergraduates. Students from the mainland will be accepted through the central examinations system, but the college has received special permission to recruit directly from Hong Kong and Macau. Professor Kwok said it was the first time the Ministry of Education had allowed a mainland institution to do so. No quotas had been set but the plan was to maintain a roughly even split between Hong Kong and mainland students, he said.