The Institute of Education will be forced to lay off staff after learning its funding will drop 27 per cent in the 2007-08 academic year. An Executive Council meeting this month decided to maintain present funding for the eight publicly funded tertiary institutions between next year and 2007 but make an average 5 per cent cut in 2007-08. The annual university tuition fee will remain frozen at $42,100 for the next three years. In real terms, HKIEd will suffer the heaviest blow, with its recurrent funding reduced to $422 million for 2007-08, partly because it will have fewer students. It has $632 million this financial year. Legco will discuss next month the budget for the next three-year period, estimated at $30.7 billion. Institute president Paul Morris said it was sad to see such a big cut in funding and predicted it would damage staff morale. 'With the reduction in student numbers, and given the current staff-student ratio, it is inevitable that the institute is going to be forced to operate with a smaller number of academic staff,' he said. He said the institution had been put in an untenable position by being denied adequate support for new part-time and sub-degree programmes it had been asked by the government to provide.