A huge majority of university staff want to keep their salaries pegged to civil service pay scales, according to a union survey. Releasing the results yesterday, the Professional Teachers' Union urged all higher education institutions to allow their staff to vote on whether to adopt the government's proposal to delink university staff and civil service salaries. The union said 84 per cent of the 549 respondents surveyed in January and early this month opposed the government's recommendation. Nearly 80 per cent said the move could lead to centralisation of power and more personnel disputes. More than 68 per cent believed it would only widen the salary gap between senior and junior university staff. Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said in November that the government had adopted the University Grants Committee's recommendation for universities to set their own salary levels. Professor Li said this would make universities more flexible, especially in luring world-class professors with attractive pay packages. However, the union's president, Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong, said the government should only push for salary deregulation with the consent of staff and after devising a fair and transparent appraisal system. 'The institutes should invite all their staff to cast a vote. If the majority say no, they should not go ahead with the delinking.' Besides, Mr Cheung said, universities had been hiring world-class experts by using non-government funding. He added that universities could accept more overseas students - especially from the mainland - to raise revenues. Chan King-ming, associate professor of Chinese University's biochemistry department and a union member, said that the delinking could undermine the quality of new teachers. 'Those with talents would rather teach in the UK and the US than in Hong Kong,' he warned.