Website URL : http://www.ucu.org.uk/2055||
UCU Northern Ireland
UCU represents members in further and higher education across Northern Ireland. We also represent staff in a number of training organizations.
NORTHERN IRELAND LATEST
Post-school education and training in the region are issues devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly and its executive. Funding is provided via the Department of Employment and Learning which receives an allocation from the executive out of the UK Treasury grant.
We maintain strong links with the assembly's Employment and Learning Committee.•
UCU Northern Ireland contacts:
UCU Northern Ireland and the National Union of Students/Union of Students of Ireland have successfully lobbied for the retention of Educational Maintenance Allowances - the scheme has been revised but still retains payments which will benefit around 25,000 students in Northern Ireland In summary from the beginning of academic year 2013/2014, eligible 16-19 year old students in full-time education will qualify for:
The Department of Employment and Learning is shaping policies to deliver on its Higher Education Strategy and Widening participation agenda. An Implementation Committee will oversee the work of 20 subject specific Project Groups which will tackle policy development across a wide range of areas such as reviewing the HE funding model, the cap on full-time student places, governance and accountability etc. UCU is represented on the Implementation Committee and most of the project teams.
Lecturers in Further Education, unlike those elsewhere in the UK, have been subjected to government pay policy for almost 10 years. This came about as a result of a decision made by direct rule ministers during the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly. In 2007 the current Northern Ireland Executive placed lecturers under civil service pay rules which has resulted in zero increases in pay for the past 2 years. Despite extensive lobbying of politicians and Ministers there is no sign that position is likely to change in the near future.
In October 2012 the Minister of Employment and Learning appointed independent HR consultant Harry McConnell to review industrial relations at the college following years of attacks on UCU officers and lecturers conditions by senior management at the college. The situation at the college had been the subject of much media coverage and was regularly talked about in the Assembly. In 2011 the branch voted to take industrial action which rumbled on for over a year. Senior Managers at the college had also taken over key positions as employers representatives and brought the same anti-UCU attributes to regional meetings. McConnell was asked to look also at the implications for wider collective bargaining arrangements across the sector.
FE lecturers in Northern Ireland are to be registered with the General Teaching Council following a consultation exercise conducted by the Department of Employment and Learning and the Department of Education. UCU in the region has welcomed governments proposals and views registration as recognising the status of college lecturers as equal to that of other teachers. UCU's response to the consultation can be found here:
UCU in the region is hosting a seminar to review changes to the Teachers Pension Scheme since 2007. The seminar will be taken by a senior officer of the Pensions Branch of the Department of Education. The TPS in Northern Ireland has been subject to similar changes to those elsewhere in the UK and the region is currently responding to further changes arising from auto-enrolment of pensions. On the wider changes to public sector pensions schemes announced by the Cameron government to take effect from 2015 trade union responses in Northern Ireland have been channelled though the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
UCU in Northern Ireland believes that in any future re-organisation of the government departments post-school further and higher education institutions should be under the departmental control of the Department of Education.
We are encouraging all members to write to their MLA in support of UCU's position regarding the proposed demise of the Department of Employment and Learning.
Some key points to make:
Northern Ireland has five dedicated HE institutions. These are:
All HE institutions are part of UCEA and are part of UK negotiating machinery for the determination of pay. Each institution has its own locally negotiated conditions of service.
Most academic and related staff at Queens, UU and OU are members of the University Superannuation Scheme for pension purposes. Lecturers at St.Mary's and Stranmillis for the most part are members of the Northern Ireland Teachers' Pension Scheme.
Some 15% of higher education in Northern Ireland is also delivered through the six further education colleges.
Key information for HE members in Northern Ireland:
Northern Ireland has six further education colleges which are area based. These are:
All colleges are part of the Colleges' Employers Forum and Colleges NI. The pay and conditions of service for lecturing staff are determined centrally at the Lecturers Negotiating Committee. A separate bargaining forum determines the pay and conditions of service of directors and deputies.
Government consults widely in Northern Ireland on proposed policy initiatives and legislation. UCU makes comment in respect of education policy. Recent comments include:
See UCU politics monthly for the latest news.
The Minister for Employment and Learning is appointed under the Assembly's rules and is a member of the Northern Ireland Executive. The current minister is an Assembly Member for the Alliance Party, Dr Stephen Farry.
The Department is scrutinized by the Assembly's Employment and Learning Committee. The current membership of the committee is:
Jim Allister (TUV) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Committee Clerk: Cathie White
Details of Committee work can be accessed here, which includes minutes, listen again facility, forward work programme, press releases, research papers, inquiries and events.
Northern Ireland Assembly Weekly Written Answers: you can review weekly written answers from the Minister for Employment and Learning here.