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Website URL : http://www.ucu.org.uk/2055
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UCU Northern Ireland

UCU represents members in further and higher education across Northern Ireland. We also represent staff in a number of training organizations.

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.
UCU in Northern Ireland engages with the Department of Employment and Learning at all levels up to and including the minister. We seek to influence policy in relation to post school education through lobbying politicians and making submissions directly to government.

We maintain strong links with the assembly's Employment and Learning Committee.

On this page:

See also UCU Northern Ireland contacts:


Vote for action against budget cuts

UCU members voted in February 2015 over taking strike action against job losses in universities and colleges throughout Northern Ireland. This followed news that the Northern Ireland Executive has reduced the budget to the Department of Employment and Learning by £48m and we are clear that a 6.4% cut constitutes a serious assault on post-school education with job cuts, insecurity and unmanageable workloads for remaining staff across the sector. You can  (.pdf) file type icon view the scrutineer's report here (.pdf) [106kb].

For more information please contact belfast@ucu.org.uk

EMA retained

UCU Northern Ireland and the National Union of Students/Union of Students of Ireland successfully lobbied for the retention of Educational Maintenance Allowance - 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:

  • a £30 weekly payment if the family income for a single student is less than £20,500 or £22,500 when there are two or more students
  • a biannual bonus award of £200 payable in two payments of £100 - one at the end of the first term and the other at the end of the second or third term.

Higher education

Northern Ireland has five dedicated HE institutions. These are:

  • The Queen's University of Belfast: contact QUB UCU
  • University of Ulster: contact Ulster UCU
  • St Mary's University College: contact: SMUC
  • Stranmillis University College: contact Stranmillis UCU 
  • Open University: contact: Alan Carr 

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:

Further education

Northern Ireland has six further education colleges which are area based. These are:

  • Belfast Metropolitan College: contact BMC UCU 
  • Southern Regional College: contact SRC UCU 
  • South Eastern Regional College: contact SERC UCU 
  • South West College: contact SWC UCU 
  • Northern Regional College: contact NRC UCU 
  • North West Regional College: contact NWRC UCU

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.

Political work

Government consultations

Government consults widely in Northern Ireland on proposed policy initiatives and legislation. UCU makes comment in respect of education policy. Recent comments include:

Political contacts

The Minister for Employment and Learning is appointed under the assembly's rules and is a member of the Northern Ireland Executive. The department is scrutinised by the assembly's Employment and Learning Committee - email: cel@niassembly.gov.uk

Details of committee work can be accessed here includes minutes, listen again facility, forward work programme, press releases, research papers, inquiries and events.

You can also review weekly written answers from the Minister for Employment and Learning.

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