Quality of sub-degree courses will be weakened if funding cut 70pc, it says City University has turned to legislators in a last-ditch effort to reverse the government's big cut in subsidies for associate degree programmes. The move would hurt staff morale and weaken the teaching quality of the affected courses, the chairman of the university's council, Norman Leung Nai-pang, told the Legislative Council's education panel. Funding for the programmes will be cut by more than 70 per cent over four years from next year. Mr Leung said the salaries of the 200 lecturers teaching sub-degree programmes at the university's College of Higher Vocational Studies would be cut by 20 per cent next year. Their pay could further fall by at least 16 per cent after 2008, he said. The salary cut was among many recommendations by the university last week on how to make its associate-degree programme self-financing by 2008. Fung Wai-wah, staff representative of City University's Save the College Action Group, which protested outside the Legislative Council yesterday, said: 'Our salaries won't even be comparable to secondary school teachers after a 20 per cent cut.' He said students in associate-degree courses could see annual fees increase by half, to $45,000. Cheung Man-kwong, the legislator representing the education sector, said the government would bring about the 'sudden death' of the sub-degree programmes. 'If 70 per cent of the blood in a human body is taken out, could that person still walk or dance?' he asked. Education bureau official Irene Young told legislators the cut was based on the understanding that the programmes could be self-financing.