Associate degree graduates say the main problems they face are a lack of top-up places in undergraduate programmes and poor recognition by employers. Dodo Cheung Yiu-tung, who is studying public administration at City University after taking an associate degree in social work at its community college, said he applied last year for many degree programmes at three universities for second-year places but got only one interview - and that was for a first-year place. He eventually secured a place in the first-year class of the public administration programme at City University through a special admissions programme for associate degree students. He was granted permission at the last minute to enter the second year after another candidate dropped out. 'My grade point average is 3.4 and I was among the top five students in my programme,' he said. 'The government should provide more University Grants Council-funded top-up places, rather than relying on private universities.' Siu Chiu-kit, who studied applied social science at Hong Kong Community College, could not secure a top-up place at a local university and finally got into a global business degree programme offered in Hong Kong by the UK-based University of Lancashire. 'I also couldn't afford to go to a local university because I could not get the financial support,' he said. 'The University of Lancashire programme is cheaper and students can get HK$10,000 towards the HK$60,000 fees through the Continuing Education Fund.' Mr Siu, who graduated in July, finally got a job in October as secretary at an NGO after writing more than 100 job application letters and gaining only 10 interviews. 'It was not easy to get a job because some bosses did not know what an associate degree was,' he said.