Students of the institute's part-time Chinese medicine course feel betrayed by the government after being banned from taking their qualification exam. Many said they had been attracted to the course after former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa vowed to turn the city into a hub for Chinese medicine. 'We thought it would be a good prospect. But now we can't even take the examination,' said student Choi Wai-kwong, 39, who joined the course in 2000. 'I have sacrificed my precious time in the past few years and spent more than HK$200,000 on my studies hoping to be a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner. But now I can't.' Mr Choi was among 160 students banned from taking their licensing exam simply because their course was part-time. 'I feel that my classmates and I have been betrayed. It is unfair that they can ban us because of a technical reason, but not because of the programme's quality,' said Mr Choi, a parks supervisor with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. The school and the students noted that a letter by the Chinese Medicine Council dated August 16, 2000, showed they could be eligible to become registered practitioners. 'The letter said those who had a recognised degree could take the examination, and we have that. But in 2003, the council suddenly added that students must take a five-year full-time programme,' he said. Part-time student Li Man-law, 40, who will graduate next year, said she was worried because she had already spent HK$220,000. 'According to our school calendar, we should take the final examination in June, but a course related to the examination has not even started,' said Ms Li, who gained her MBA degree 10 years ago. 'I feel that we have been unfairly treated. On what grounds do they think we are not as good as the full-time students? The council has not even assessed the programme we are studying. Ms Li said the exam should decide whether the students were qualified. 'If I am not up to standard, my mark in the exam will be the best indicator. But I do not even have a chance to put myself to the test.'