University staff-dismissal procedures have been branded unfair by the chairman of the Federation of Higher Education Staff Associations. Professor Shum Kar-ping said there was no transparent appeal system for staff who lost their jobs. Universities were hiring a rising number of contract staff, he said, but often those who had not had their contracts renewed did not know where to seek redress or tended not to take any action. In the federation's latest newsletter, to go out before the Lunar New Year, Professor Shum criticised the dismissal last year of 39 staff at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) as biased. 'The people who made the original recommendation on the sacking were also involved in considering the appeals. In other universities, even when ad hoc committees are formed to look into a case, the affected staff tend to drop their cases because of the biased composition of the committees.' He called for the inclusion of outside figures such as legislators in appeal committees to ensure impartial rulings. Deputy director of the HKIEd, Norman Ngai Wai-yiu, retorted that the review committee which decided on the sackings and received submissions from the affected staff later on was not an appeal body. 'It just provided a chance for the affected staff to submit information which we might not have been aware of in making the decisions. There was a separate appeal committee formed under the council.' Only HKIEd director Professor Ruth Hayhoe sat on both the review and the appeal committees. Professor Shum added that students and teachers at City University (CityU) had criticised School of Law dean Mike McConville's appointment to a committee vetting the school's decision not to renew the contracts of 20 Chinese and South Asian law lecturers. Professor McConville had initially recommended their dismissals. CityU appointed two new members, retired judge Benjamin Liu Tze-ming and leading lawyer Roderick Woo Bun, to a different committee considering the lecturers' appeals. Professor Shum also called on Baptist University (HKBU) to avoid further delay in deciding the fate of the former head of its social work department, Henry Mok Tai-kee, who was suspended from all his duties for six months last November, following accusations of neglect of duties from students. HKBU set up a special taskforce in September to investigate the allegations. Two months later, a special appointment termination committee was formed to decide on Dr Mok's future. It was expected to come up with a decision within three months. But one lecturer at HKBU questioned the process. 'Does it necessarily mean the final decision will be fairer just because they spent so much time on the matter?'