Applications from mainland students for undergraduate study at the University of Hong Kong have more than doubled in the past year. The university received 10,134 applications from students in 20 provinces and cities by the end of last month, compared with 4,848 last year. Registrar Henry Wai Wing-kun said the university would fight for an increase in the government's quota for non-local students from the mainland and overseas - currently 10 per cent or 270 first year places - and hoped to raise it to 20 per cent within the next five years. He said local students benefited from studying with their mainland counterparts as they came in touch with a different culture and gained a broader perspective. Academics at a forum held this week to discuss higher education said universities should admit more students from the mainland and beyond, in order to have a wider relevance. Cheng Kai-ming, chair professor of education at HKU, said it was crucial the university admit more if it was to be on a par with Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan universities. 'We are also working very hard with admission teams in Korea, India, Malaysia and Central Asia.' Enoch Young Chien-ming, director of HKU Space, said that in 2004-2005, Hong Kong only had a 'humble share of 3,000 mainland students', out of 620,000 studying overseas. Universities should be given scope to recruit more.