More than 6,000 places in international schools will be created in the coming years in a government drive to expand the sector, the Education Bureau has said. In the past two years, four schools have been given the green light to expand their existing premises and four others have been awarded vacant school buildings that will be renovated, under the bureau's three-pronged approach to supporting the growth of international schools. An extra 400 school places will be created through expanding campuses and 1,640 places - including 300 at primary level - will be set up in the renovated buildings from September, according to a bureau report issued to legislators yesterday. In December, officials invited applications to build new international schools - including one boarding school - on four green-field sites at Kowloon Bay, Lai Chi Kok, Sai Kung and So Kwun Wat, near Tuen Mun. More than 4,000 extra places will be created within the next four years at these new schools following the allocation process, which is due to be completed in the summer. The bureau had received 14 applications for the four sites by the deadline last month: four from operators of existing international schools, five from operators of local schools, four from overseas school groups and one from a foreign government organisation. A bureau spokeswoman said it was encouraged by the positive response. 'It is an ongoing commitment of the government to support the development of a vibrant international school sector in Hong Kong,' she said. 'We have taken active steps to provide assistance to individual international schools, which would help to meet the community's demand for international school places and further enhance the development of the sector.' Christopher Hammerbeck, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce, said: 'In the medium and short term, the creation of these new international school places will do much to correct the existing shortage. 'Equally it will maintain the freedom of choice for local parents to be able to educate their children in high-quality international schools rather than having to send them to schools in Europe or the US.'