Staff at the Hong Kong Institute of Education yesterday reacted angrily to management's decision to offer early retirement to up to 10 per cent of lecturers. On Wednesday the Association of Lecturers at the institute unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the centre's leadership, management and decision-making processes and called on the Professional Teachers' Union to help. The association is fighting the institute's Management Initiated Retirement Scheme, implemented last week when up to 40 of the 400 academic staff were presented with provisional dismissal notices. The association said the plan had not followed agreed procedures and lacked integrity. The Professional Teachers' Union has taken up the association's case. 'We can't accept the institute's decision,' said union president Cheung Man-kwong. Director of the institute, Professor Ruth Hayhoe, yesterday defended the scheme, negotiated over the recent years. She said it was essential to upgrade the institute as a result of education reforms and expectations of higher standards of graduates. 'Principals have been critical of some of our graduates for their traditional outlook. This move is to assure that graduates in future have the abilities to meet the needs of schools and the community,' she said. By 2004, its sub-degree certificate courses for primary and secondary teachers will be phased out in line with government policy that all teachers be educated to degree level. Those targeted have been given two weeks to appeal. Final decisions on their fate would be made by an institute-based committee by the middle of next month, Professor Hayhoe said. The package for those leaving includes an entitlement to draw pensions of up to $45,000 a month, a minimum ex-gratia payment of seven months' salary and money entitled under staff superannuation funds.