HONG KONG Baptist College, City Polytechnic of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic are gearing up to challenge the existing three universities for good students once their change of status to universities is confirmed. The decision to double the number of universities to six by this academic year followed the Government applying the university pay scale to degree-level teaching staff at the three institutions in 1992 and awarding them with self-accreditation status in July the same year. When the three institutes become the Hong Kong Baptist University, City University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University respectively, Lingnan College will be the only non-university institute under the auspices of the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee. The three new universities-to-be have come up with their own plans to meet their new status. Apart from the recruitment of quality staff through a peer evaluation process, City Polytechnic of Hong Kong is considering the concept of generalised education as adopted by other universities, that is to provide a broader education on top of their existing technical and more narrow curriculum, according to Professor Cheng Yiu-chung, the institute's director. ''But our mission is to train practical and professional people, and we are not a liberal arts university, so we have to see how much we can do without sacrificing our own goals,'' Professor Cheng said. Professor Jerry Barret, deputy director of Baptist College, said the institute would continue to ensure the quality of its programmes, a key to attracting competent students. ''Through the common JUPAS [Joint University and Polytechnic Admissions System], students apply to programmes [rather than to institutes]. If any institute's programme is a good one, it will attract good students.'' Standards of programmes will be ensured through the employment of capable staff, continual quality assessment and monitoring by a special committee, students and external examiners on staff and programmes, Professor Barret said. Alexander Tzang Hing-chung, associate director (industrial development and corporate communications) of Hong Kong Polytechnic said devising courses to meet the demands of the 21st century would be the strategy of the institute in years to come. ''The Asian Pacific region will be the focus of development of the world in a couple of decades and it will open up a bigger market for Hong Kong for professionals, so courses directed to upgrade our students' personal quality, executive calibre, communication ability and leadership are vital,'' Mr Tzang said. He said that in contrast to the general conception that the institute's students were of lower calibre, a survey conducted this June by a commercial firm found employers in the commercial sector rated students of the Hong Kong Polytechnic as number one in terms of practicability. Dr John Chen Tso-shun, president of Lingnan College revealed that the college expected to obtain university status in 1997, if it proves its credibility through the UPGC-held institutional review in September 1996. Introducing and developing expertise in unconventional programmes not available at other institutes would continue to be a way to attract students, said Dr Chen. ''[Lingnan] is unlikely to compete with well-established universities in areas of their specialities. But our advantage is we are always courageous in developing new and unconventional programmes like Asian Pacific Studies, Entrepreneurship, Public Policy and Resource Allocation and a Chinese stream of the existing Human Resources Management to meet the demand of students and society,'' he said.