Open University of Hong Kong will take part in the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (Jupas) for the first time next year. Jupas said this week that the non-publicly funded university had been accepted, making it the ninth tertiary institution in the system. The university will offer places in seven full-time degree courses through the centralised applications system which is aimed primarily at school-leavers. Danny Wong Shek-nam, vice-president (academics) of Open University, said the university began negotiations with Jupas in early 2005 in a move aimed at boosting its public image. 'To us, getting into Jupas is to let society know that our full-time programmes are equal to those offered by other universities,' he said. The seven courses would only be offered through Jupas and would last three years rather than the university's normal four to make them more competitive, the professor said. They would include places for about 280 students. 'Over three years, this makes a total of about 800 students,' Professor Wong said. 'This gives us a stable number that will be helpful to us in our development.' But he denied the university was moving its focus from providing tertiary education for mature students. 'We don't see entering Jupas as a change in our mission,' he said. 'We are going to remain as an open and distance institution.' Face-to-face classes had been increasing since they were first introduced in 2001, he said, but the university planned to cap full-time students, 'at the most 20 per cent of the total number of students'. Professor Wong admitted the university's fees would be about 20 per cent higher than courses offered by publicly funded institutions. 'Unfortunately this is not something we can do anything about, because we do not have any direct support from the government,' he said.