IT will be a somewhat disgruntled lot of students who will begin tertiary education when institutes open their doors next month, and most of the complaints will be directed at the new joint admissions system. Under the Joint University and Polytechnic Admissions System (JUPAS) introduced this year, students draw up a priority list of academic programmes of no more than 20 choices. These are matched against priority lists compiled by each of the seven institutes in order of their merit requirements for admission. However, many students say they are still in the dark about the selection criteria since they were given no guidelines about the requirements for courses to which they applied. Another complaint is that as opposed to the previous three-round selection, the new method is based on the ''one round, one offer'' principle. Many students say this offers no choice and is a take-it-or-leave-it offer. ''No matter how reluctant you are to accept the offer, either you accept it or you give up your chance to study at any of the seven institutes under JUPAS,'' said student Richard Ho Kin-yiu, 20. Mr Ho, who scored one B in Economics, D in Principles of Accounts and Use of English and E in Chinese in his Advanced-Level examinations, received an offer from his ninth choice, the economics option of the Faculty of Social Sciences in Baptist College. ''It is difficult to understand why students who scored poorer results were offered choices of a higher priority while many others who attained better results were offered choices of a lower priority,'' he said. A spokesman for the University of Hong Kong said the institute's criteria for admission included performance in Use of English and Mathematics on top of the overall performance of the student, suggesting that Mr Ho did not meet the requirements. Another student, Hector Lee Ho-kwan, 19, said: ''Nobody seems to know the criteria for selection. And there is a great discrepancy between the results level and the offer.'' Applicant Yang Man-sum, 21, said neither teachers nor students were provided with guidelines specifying conditions under which students would be accepted by the institutes. However, the system offers more advantages to applicant Edward Lee Chak-man, 19. Mr Lee, scoring one B in Use of English, C in Business Studies, one D, one E and one F, absent in Religious Studies and B in the Use of English, received an offer from his third choice, the Department of Arts of the University of Hong Kong. About 47.2 per cent - or 11,867 out of 25,140 - of applicants who register under the JUPAS succeed in being granted a place at one of the seven institutes. ''Those who have not received any offer at all may end up with better offers than those who get through the JUPAS selection,'' said Mr Lee. A spokesman for the University of Hong Kong confirmed individual departments had started informing unsuccessful JUPAS applicants to attend interviews at the institute. ''But we will not consider those who received an offer in the first round,'' said the spokesman.