The first union to represent tertiary teaching and administrative staff will be established this month and will cover about 10 institutions. Organisers hope the union will be ready in time to participate in May's elections via the Election Committee. The union will be called the Federation of Hong Kong Higher Education Staff Association. Raymond Fung Ling-tao, a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology representative on the union's preparatory committee, said he hoped the federation could safeguard and improve the welfare and interests of staff. 'We can also contribute to the development of higher education in Hong Kong and offer expert opinions on relevant education issues,' he said. 'At present, we don't have such an organisation so our interests are not well protected. It's ridiculous, as even teachers in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools have unions.' Interest in joining the union had been expressed by staff organisations at Hong Kong University, Chinese University, University of Science and Technology, Polytechnic University, City University, Baptist University, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Open University, Lingnan College and Shue Yan College. Staff organisations at Hong Kong University and the University of Science and Technology would have to change their registration from social groups to unions before they could join. 'Anyway, we will go ahead and set up the federation first. We are drafting a constitution,' Mr Fung said. He said organisers wanted to be able to participate in this year's election through the Election Committee. But ultimately, they wanted higher education to be represented in the functional constituencies. Provisional legislator Ng Ching-fai last year proposed that such a constituency be established but his bid was defeated. Mr Fung said each institution would probably send two or three representatives to meetings of the new union. Membership would cost between $1,000 and $1,500 a year.