Universities are about 5,000 hostel places short of their goal of allowing all students to live on campus for at least one year of their undergraduate studies. Edward Cheng Wai-sun, chairman of the University Grants Committee, revealed the shortfall yesterday amid concern over a shortage of hostel places for next year after universities saw a double intake of students. The new academic term sees the final set of students who took the old A-level exams start three-year courses, while the first group of students who took the Diploma of Secondary Education start four-year courses. "Each university has limited space and some students may have to go to distant areas for a hostel place," Cheng said. The University of Science and Technology, Baptist University and City University are looking to build off-campus hostels in Ma On Shan and Tseung Kwan O. Cheng gave a media briefing yesterday on education reforms, in which all pupils get six years of high-school education and a four-year degree. He admitted that the lack of hostel places had held back the city's attempts to internationalise its higher education system by welcoming more non-local students. "I hope to explore with the government ways to resolve the issue," he said. He said six student hostel projects providing 7,000 spaces were due to be completed by the end of this year. Meanwhile, four of the 12 other campus-development projects commissioned to accommodate the new curriculum have experienced delays. They are the academic and administration building at City University, the student amenities centre at Chinese University, the phase eight development at Polytechnic University and the new academic building at HKUST. Cheng said he expected the projects to be completed by January. "The institutions have implemented contingency measures, including the extension of teaching hours and finding of temporary space, to meet the teaching needs for the new academic year," Cheng said.