At least two universities say they might consider postponing the start of the academic year in 2012 by two weeks to mid-September so that they will have more time to screen applicants who have taken the inaugural school diploma exam. Polytechnic University's vice-president for academic development, Professor Suleyman Demokan, said the university might need more time to process applications from the first batch of students with the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. He said the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority had indicated it would have problems releasing the exam results earlier than scheduled. 'We are having ongoing discussions with them,' Demokan said. 'We will have very little time to process applications' under the proposed schedule. An exam authority spokeswoman said it would be risky to bring forward the release date for the results. 'The standard time between the end of exams and release of results should be 11 weeks,' she said. 'We have already condensed it to 10 weeks for the diploma. If we further condense it, it will be risky. It might affect marking accuracy. 'An earlier release date for exam results would also mean that the secondary academic term had to end earlier. Shortening the academic term and learning time of students would incur complaints from schools.' The problem stems from the clash of two public exams in 2012, when students in Form Six will sit the diploma exam for the first time, while the last Form Seven classes will take their A-levels. The A-level results are released on June 30, and those for the diploma exam are to be released around mid-July. Heads of universities have objected to the proposed diploma exam schedule, saying it does not leave them enough time to select degree students. With 74,000 diploma candidates contesting degree places alongside 39,000 A-level students, there will be 180 per cent more school-leavers than usual in 2012. Because of the increase in numbers, universities will offer 29,000 places in 2012, double the number offered at present, meaning a tremendous increase in their admission workload in 2012. A spokesman for the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology says it would consider the option proposed by PolyU. 'But it's still too early to make a decision on the matter, as there are still two years before 2012,' he said. 'We will keep a close eye on the matter.'