Nearly one in three first-year students of business and economics at the University of Hong Kong are from outside the territory this year. HKU's Faculty of Business and Economics has seen a jump in the proportion of first-year international students from 14 per cent in 2004 to 29 per cent this year - 173 out of nearly 600 first-year undergraduate students are non-local. The international business and global management programme, which started last year and is one of five courses enrolling students with the best A-level and AS-level results, has admitted students from 12 countries this year, including the mainland, Venezuela, and the Philippines. Programme co-ordinator Patrick Chau Yam-keung attributed the increase in non-local students doing business and economics to efforts promoting the university outside Hong Kong. Parts of the website were designed to cater for international students, he added. Professor Chau said international students were not evenly distributed across all subjects, with business being more favoured. 'Hong Kong is very attractive because it captures the essence of both east and west, and is a financial centre in Asia,' he said. At the Legislative Council's education panel meeting on Thursday, Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee expressed concern about the possibility that the recruitment of more non-local students might reduce the chances of admission of locals. Ms Eu was referring to one of the government's new initiatives to develop Hong Kong as a regional education hub and the possibility of increasing the number of non-local students studying in the city. Currently, the number of non-local students all universities are allowed to admit is capped at 10 per cent of the undergraduate body. Professor Chau said he was not worried about local students being displaced as long as the total number of places rose alongside the increase in the proportion of overseas students. 'Hong Kong students gain an international perspective as they study with overseas students,' he said.