Polytechnic University students are calling for greater transparency in the selection process for the university's next president. At a forum this week, students urged president Poon Chung-kwong, who will retire at the end of the year, to open the recruitment process for his successor. The procedure, which started last year, has been kept confidential. Candidates have not been officially announced. The students said they had no way of knowing even what stage the selection process was at or how many candidates had been considered by a seven-member search committee established last year. 'We just want to know the candidates' names and academic backgrounds, but even this basic information is denied to us,' first-year student Chan Hei-wai said. 'We even came to learn the name of a possible candidate from the media.' A Chinese-language newspaper this month reported that PolyU had invited a Hong Kong-born academic in the United States to join the presidential race. He was Tony Chan Fan-choeng, the former dean of physical sciences of the University of California at Los Angeles. PolyU has dismissed the report as speculation. The students questioned the university's handling of the selection process and hoped there would be open forums for candidates to explain their platforms. Professor Poon said the university's stance was to keep the recruitment process confidential and ensure the identity of candidates not be 'exposed prematurely'. 'Imagine a professor from another institution applies for the job here,' he said. 'If his bid is exposed, it will adversely affect his prospects at the institution he is presently working.' The debate heated up as Professor Poon criticised students for not being enthusiastic enough about university affairs. The average attendance rate of student representatives on many university affairs committees was below 50 per cent, he said.