Hong Kong students may enjoy a quality of education opportunity that ranks among the highest in the world, but more needs to be done to avoid bias against poor pupils, academics said yesterday. They warned that inequalities in society could spill over into an education system that is currently quite equal. The academics were commenting after a study found that students' scores in countries with high equality, including Hong Kong and Finland, were higher than in those with an unequal system, such as the United States and Argentina. The study, of how education inequality affects students' achievements, was conducted by Chinese University and City University. Educational psychology professor Chiu Ming-ming of Chinese University and Lawrence Khoo from City University's department of economics and finance said the findings were significant for education reforms in Hong Kong. Professor Chiu said that an unequal society might put pressure on an education system currently quite equal. He cited the danger that policies such as the direct subsidy scheme for schools could increase the disparity between rich and poor students. 'The government is already taking steps to improve the situation,' Professor Chiu said. Fee remission schemes were an example. Teachers, however, should be trained to give equal attention to children regardless of their family income. The study drew data from a UN study that tested 193,076 15-year-olds in 41 countries and regions on various subjects. The researchers said that since poor students benefited more from additional resources from the government, a skewed distribution of resources that favoured schools attended by richer students would lead to lower scores. The more unequal education systems, they said, were characterised by unequal distribution of resources, segregation of the rich and the poor into different schools, and privileged treatment of more affluent students.