The Institute of Technology will suspend its nursing course - which the Nursing Council has refused to recognise - from September, said institute president Joy Shi Mei-chun. She said 139 students who were part-way through its associate degree in nursing programme had applied for the Hospital Authority's bridging courses, which would help them to become registered nurses or enrolled nurses. Enrolled nurses have less training than registered nurses and generally get lower pay. A Hospital Authority spokeswoman yesterday declined to reveal the number of applications it had received. The Nursing Council refused to accredit the institute's nursing course in March, meaning its graduates could not become registered nurses. 'We don't want to risk our students' future. It is fortunate to have a happy ending this time ... but [the Hospital Authority's] arrangement is just a one-off measure,' Ms Shi said. The institute would only consider restarting the course when the Nursing Council and Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications set out common assessment criteria, she said. The institute started the three-year nursing programme in September 2005, a month after it was accredited by what was then the Council for Academic Accreditation - renamed last October the Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications. But the course was later rejected twice for accreditation by the Nursing Council - in February 2006 and in March this year. 'We have spent so much money and effort to run this course. [The Nursing Council's] rejection has totally wasted our resources,' Ms Shi said. The institute would waive students' tuition fees in July to ease their financial burden of switching to the bridging courses, she said. That meant each student could save HK$3,900 to HK$4,500, depending on the year of studies. The Hospital Authority has offered to provide a six-month, HK$14,000 revision programme for the institute's 21 third-year nursing students to bring them to a point where they can sit the authority's Higher Diploma in Nursing final examination to become registered nurses. First- and second-year nursing students can also switch to the authority's higher diploma courses, at a cost of HK$28,000 a year, if they meet entry requirements. The authority runs a three-year Higher Diploma in Nursing programme at Queen Elizabeth Hospital to train registered nurses. The bridging courses will be open to applications until the end of this month. Meanwhile, Nursing Council member and lawmaker Joseph Lee Kok-long said the council's accreditation committee would probably meet this week to discuss whether to approve the Higher Diploma in Nursing course of the University of Hong Kong School of Professional and Continuing Education. A spokeswoman for the school said it was confident that its nursing course - with a total of 40 students - would be accredited by the council.