European studies academics from Hong Kong are pooling their expertise to follow other Asian countries with the planned establishment of a European studies association in the territory. Agreement was reached after a conference at Baptist University last month, which brought together more than 40 scholars from universities and institutes in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as the local representative from the European Union. 'European studies is taught in almost all tertiary institutions, and it is sensible for people in this region to be in touch with one another,' said Professor Murray Forsyth, the head of Baptist University's Department of Government and International Studies. 'The association will not only bring people in Hong Kong together, but will help us become part of a worldwide organisation. 'About 18 countries beyond Europe, like Korea, Japan and China, have already established their study associations,' he said. A draft constitution was completed last week by an eight-strong committee comprising members of faculties like law, history, language and politics, from the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University, the Polytechnic University, the Baptist University, Lingnan College and the Open Learning Institute, which will be put before the conference attendants at a general meeting for their ratification by early May. In contrast to similar organisations in Europe which are strictly academic, the proposed Baptist University-based association would be multi-disciplinary, also covering the media, politics, civil services, diplomacy and business - despite its strong academic background. 'We don't want to make it exclusively academic, but we want to bring together all the people who have an interest in European studies. 'We are not part of Europe in Hong Kong, and we want to make people better informed and stimulate their interest in Europe,' Professor Forsyth said. The proposed body would organise seminars and workshops, bring in visiting European scholars and keep local European voices informed of the latest developments. It would also receive bulletins from the European Union, and meet the associations from other countries. Professor Forsyth said he believed the formation of such a body would boost students' interest in the discipline, and provide both academic and non-academic circles with a sound foundation for academic research and development. In response to the growing interest of students in the discipline, the committee has proposed that students be offered reduced rates to join the association, and has plans to establish exchange programmes among tertiary institutions, Professor Forsyth added.