Teachers say 33pc reduction in funding could badly affect future of training Legislators have urged the government to reconsider plans to slash funding for the Hong Kong Institute of Education, citing worries about the institution's survival. HKIEd funding is to be reduced by 33 per cent to $422 million by 2007-08, from this year's $632 million. It will be the hardest-hit of all government-funded tertiary institutions, which are bracing for an average 5 per cent funding cut in the last year of the 2005-08 budget, while being spared any cut in the first two years. At the Legislative Council education panel meeting yesterday, legislators questioned the need for the large funding reduction for the institute. 'Can any institution which has almost half of its budget cut in a few years sustain itself?' education sector representative Cheung Man-kwong asked. 'Will a merger be the only way out for it to survive?' The legislator representing the social welfare sector, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, agreed the cut had put the institution's survival at risk and warned of extensive lay-offs or wage cuts for staff. A submission by the institute's Academic Staff Association said the large cut would severely damage teacher education. The proposed reduction also means institute students will have to bear about 27 per cent of the overall cost of their studies, contrary to the government's principle of having tuition fees make up 18 per cent of the cost. Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung maintained the reduction was due to an expected 14 per cent drop in student numbers as the falling birth rate brought a reduction in demand for teachers. The funding cut also appears more severe because of the complete withdrawal of special start-up funding given to the institute in its early days of development. Professor Li said it could be given more funding for collaboration projects with other institutions. 'It has to think of other ways of developing itself. It could be hard hit financially if it just sticks to its present mode of operations,' he said. On academic structure and curriculum reform, Professor Li said new rounds of consultation on implementation details would take place mid-year after the end of the present review on January 19.