A quota system restricting Early Admissions Scheme (EAS) applicants from applying to study popular subjects, including medicine and global business, is a drawback to the scheme, a participating university points out. Henry Wai Wing-kun, registrar at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), said it was unfair to some EAS students as the University Grants Committee had fixed a one-third quota for each subject in enrolling EAS students each year, resulting in some EAS applicants not being admitted in their first choice. For example, some students cannot study the most popular subjects like medicine due to the quota even though they have listed them as their first choice. Medicine, actuarial science, double-degrees and global business programmes are the most popular choices among EAS students with nine to 10 As at HKU. The top five subjects among EAS students at the Chinese University are also medicine and business related. This year, 131 applicants listed medical studies as their first choice, but only 47 EAS students were admitted. Apart from quota restrictions, Mr Wai said they were concerned whether EAS students were mature enough to study earlier than other FormSeven graduates. The first batch of EAS students, who enrolled in 2002, graduated two years ago. He was pleased their results showed they were capable of managing their studies. 'In HKU, 56 per cent of EAS students gained first class honours in 2002-2005, and two EAS medical graduate students scored the best in the class,' the registrar reported. 'FormSix students with six to 10 distinctions mean they have a good knowledge of study, better time management, excellent memory, concentration and appropriate study methods. They perform academically well compared with other students,' he said. Therefore, HKU provides scholarship applications for EAS students. 'We do not single out any EAS students, but we use interviews and questionnaires to keep an eye on their progress,' he said. EAS students with Agrades in seven or eight subjects can obtain scholarships at the Chinese University. Students with nine or 10 distinctions can apply for full tuition fee scholarships of HK$42,100. The scheme, however, affects the curriculum planning of some elite secondary schools. Cecilia Tang Chung-pin, vice-principal of LaSalle College, said teachers were concerned that the formal university admission rate would dwindle with the number of EAS students dropping out of Form Seven studies over the years. Almost 80 EAS students have joined the scheme in the past five years, of which 18 were admitted this year. 'Some non-EAS students may have low self-esteem when they fail to join the scheme, while others may be motivated by EAS students to work harder ,' Ms Tang said. However, Poon Huen-wai, principal of HKTA Tang Hin Memorial Secondary School, said EAS had little effect on their curriculum. Seven students from the school joined EAS this year. 'EAS can give SecondaryFive students a goal to achieve in HKCEE,' Mr Poon said. 'But we are not biased, we would not brag about their academic achievements as we should not only judge students' ability in a single public examination,' he said.