An innovative scheme known as Project Yi Jin that provided an alternative route for students who failed in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) to gain an academic status for, and access to, higher education was evaluated after one year's implementation. A survey of 2416 students via telephone found that students who successfully completed the project had better opportunities for further study and tended to do so at higher academic levels than those who did not complete the programme. They also had better subsequent employment opportunities and felt more satisfied with the course. The programme was found to be gender and age unbiased and was able to differentiate higher academic achievers from lower academic achievers for more advanced academic pursuit. Project Yi Jin has served as a bridge between secondary and tertiary education and provided a route for those who had completed secondary education in Hong Kong with unsatisfactory results and those mature students who are 21 or above to obtain a formal qualification for both employment and continuing education purposes. Copyright © 2004 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.