About 160 secondary students, with some travelling from Shenzhen, attended a seminar this week at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on how to improve their chances of being accepted by an Ivy League university. Representatives from Harvard and Brown universities, as well as CUHK, told students, parents and teachers how competition for places had intensified in recent years. Harvard receives 23,000 applicants for 2,100 places each year, while only 2,000 of the 18,000 students who applied to Brown University last year were accepted. Dr William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard, said the institution was looking for students with academic talent, leadership qualities and good character. 'We're looking for students from all over the world. We're looking for people with all different kinds of talent,' he said. While Harvard does not set minimum scores for admission, most students admitted get between 600 and 800 on each section of the SAT reasoning and subject tests. James Miller, dean of admissions at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said US universities considered applicants' academic performance, extra-curricular activities, personal qualities and 'something that shows a passion for something outside the classroom'. He said US universities also looked for potential leaders, 'people who will ask questions and challenge each other and push each others' values and attitudes'. Mr Miller said the process of applying to US universities differed considerably from Hong Kong institutions. American universities would often ask students to supply academic results - including performance in SAT and local exams, essays and references from academic contacts such as teachers. Some may also interview students. He said Brown now had about 20 Hong Kong students. 'We're trying to find the best students, regardless of where they come from,' he said. 'We are looking to build a community of students from different backgrounds and experiences because our students tell us they learn a great deal from each other and they appreciate the opportunity to learn from people of different backgrounds.' Dr Fitzsimmons, who will join Mr Miller on a mainland recruiting trip, said Harvard was trying to recruit more Chinese students. Despite the appeal of the Ivy League institutions, CUHK tried to entice students to continue their studies in Hong Kong. Pro-vice chancellor Jack Cheng Chun-yiu said CUHK was looking for bilingual students with strong analytical and life-long learning skills.