Vocational Training Council admission centres did brisk business yesterday as students with lower A-level results rushed to secure places in sub-degree programmes. The centres in Wan Chai and Cheung Sha Wan, run by the Institute of Vocational Education, accepted more than 1,000 applicants as of 5pm yesterday. Another 2,000 applicants were admitted before the release of A-level results on Tuesday. Admissions close at 5pm today. In all, about 3,000 places in 50 higher diploma programmes spanning nine disciplines are on offer Leung Yam-shing, the council's education adviser, said applied science and child education courses were the most sought-after courses. 'Some of the courses in applied science are full already,' he said. Of the 38,647 students who took the A-level exam this year, 20,903 failed to attain the minimum qualifications for university entrance, up by 210 over last year. Of the 17,744 who fulfilled the minimum university admission requirements, 3,244 students will have to seek a different path - such as diploma programmes or overseas study - as there are only 14,500 government-funded undergraduate places available. Mr Leung said the Vocational Training Council expected an increase in the number of applicants this year. 'The entry point will be higher this year because of the increase in the number of applicants,' he said. Successful applicants are accepted on the spot at the admission centres after being interviewed. They then have to register and pay the first tuition fee instalment of HK$5,000 before the end of this month. Students can forfeit their place if they opt for other study options. Some students saw the offer as just one option available to them. Chiu Pik-ki, 18, who failed English language in her A-level results, was offered a place to study for a higher diploma in internet and multimedia engineering. 'I will also consider applying for associate degrees in information technology,' she said. 'The two-year higher diploma costs around HK$50,000, but a two-year associate degree costs around HK$100,000. Cost is one of the factors I need to take into consideration.' Endor Fan, 19, who also failed English in the A-levels and was offered a place in a food science programme, said vocational programmes offered better career prospects than associate degrees. 'The possibility of getting a degree offer after the completion of an associate degree is very slim,' he said.