University staff are to set up a legal funds war chest to help lecturers who were made redundant by the Hong Kong Institute of Education last month. The Federation of Hong Kong Higher Education Staff Association, which represents about 10,000 university staff, is behind the drive to fund a class action. It estimates it will need at least $500,000 to help 35 lecturers laid off by the institute in Tai Po two weeks after the new school term resumed. The institute said the teachers were no longer needed because their skills did not meet the future development of the school and they had not obtained higher qualifications. Federation vice-chairman Dr Chan Chi-wai said: 'Legally speaking, you cannot make your staff redundant because their skills are not meeting future needs. The lay-offs have no grounds.' The class action aimed to have the lecturers reinstated, he said. The institute said it had sorted out all legal issues with the Government before making the move. At least two of the lecturers have doctoral degrees and most of the others are said to be pursuing the qualification. Social sciences lecturer Lee Chun-choi, one of the axed teachers, said: 'It's really good that the federation is doing this for us.' The lecturers can continue to teach pending their appeals, made to a 10-member board over the past week. The results are expected to be released by Tuesday.