Staff say the plan to reduce salaries of associate degree teachers is acceptable Teachers of associate degree programmes at City University might see a possible 20 per cent pay cut from July, following the withdrawal of most government funding. The move was suggested yesterday in a draft report by a working group examining the programmes. The pay cut would affect about 200 staff at the university's College of Higher Vocational Studies, which carries out the programmes. Yesterday's draft report was intended to kick off a consultation period with students and staff which ends on October 31. The working group will give the university council its final report next month. The 20 per cent pay cut would include a 6 per cent reduction that all universities will implement over the next two years, bringing them in line with reductions to civil service wages. Working group chairman Chung Shui-ming said the cuts were needed to ensure the viability of programmes that will have to be self-financing in future. Beginning next year and lasting until 2008, the government will withdraw 70 per cent of its funding for associate degrees at CityU. 'The biggest challenge we face is to run the programmes on a self-financing basis without compromising their quality,' Mr Chung said. He added the salaries of many college staff were already above market rates due to their long years of service. CityU has been offering the programmes for almost 20 years. Staff could keep their existing benefits, but further salary cuts could be possible after 2008, he warned, depending on the popularity of the courses in future. The working group also suggested that some staff be offered a four-year contract from July. Those who reject the terms should be given the option of a severance or voluntary retirement package, to be determined by the university. The group also urged the university to seek government support to build a new college running the self-financed programmes. Other proposals by the group include streamlining staff organisation and the incorporation of a company under City University's council to handle their contracts. Staff representative Fung Wai-wah welcomed the university's commitment to continue running the associated degree programmes. He said the level of salary reduction was acceptable, given that other university staff were also due for wage cuts. But Mr Fung was concerned about the proposed shift to appointments on contract terms. 'That means staff could be made redundant easily by 2008,'' he said. 'This will weaken their job security.'' The Legislative Council's education panel will discuss the funding withdrawal on Monday.