Fighting fund banner


The week in news: 23 October 2015

23 October 2015

A look back at some of this week's news.

FE pay strike date announced

Members in further education will be taking strike action on Tuesday 10 November in a row over pay. The union's further education committee met on Saturday to consider a ballot result three-quarters of members (74%) who voted backed strike action.

UCU head of bargaining, Michael MacNeil, told the TES that: 'Members who voted clearly backed strike action and the further education committee on Saturday confirmed plans for action this term. We intend to take strike action on Tuesday 10 November, but urge the employers to come back to the table to resolve this dispute.'

'This change will be the end of the Open University as we know it'

An Open University lecturer told Tuesday's Guardian that plans to axe seven regional centres with the loss of 502 jobs represents 'the most fundamental change in the way the Open University operates in England', and that tutors and academic colleagues had warned him the plans would signal 'the end of the OU in England as we know it.'

Writing for the Guardian's Anonymous Academic section, a senior lecturer from the London office warned in a very personal piece that the institution was about to risk both its operational effectiveness and its institutional reputation unless it recognises that distance education needs local dedication.

Elsewhere, the Oxford Times reported on clampdowns on dissent ahead of a Senate meeting last week. Despite the university's efforts to limit protests, the Senate rejected the cuts and called on the institution to reconsider its plans.

Jobs at risk at Leeds City College

Around 300 people are at risk of losing their jobs or being forced to take a pay cut under new plans to save money at Leeds City College. The college wants to find £2.83m savings and get rid of 218 posts, which would affect 293 members of staff. The college told FE Week that it intends to create 179 new posts and expects the total net loss of jobs to be around 40 posts.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, UCU representative John Giddins said: 'These cuts another terrible blow to the hard-working staff at Leeds City College. This is the fourth year in a row that the college has cut jobs and educational opportunities in Leeds.'

Government apprenticeship obsession has diluted quality and put young people off

The drive to create more apprenticeships has diluted their quality, warned a report from the schools watchdog yesterday. UCU said the report highlighted problems with the quality of apprenticeships as well as concerns over the number of young people considering them.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, told the TES: 'Politicians of all stripes have many warm words for apprenticeships, but delivering high-quality programmes is about more than simply a numbers game. 'This report reinforces our concerns that too many apprenticeships are not up to scratch and they are not appealing to young people. We believe that better advice for young people may help, but we need high-quality programmes that actually cater for the needs of different types of students and employers.'

Unions invited to talks to try and fix row over governance of Scottish universities

Talks to try and fix a row over the future of governance of Scottish universities will involve unions and students, the Scottish education secretary confirmed this week. UCU is pushing for elected chairs on governing bodies and far better scrutiny at the top of universities. Speaking to Times Higher Education UCU Scotland president, Douglas Chalmers, said: 'The key issues of elected chairs of governing bodies and places for student and trade union nominees will have an important role to play in ending the disconnect that has arisen between many governing bodies and the university community of staff and students.'

Last updated: 22 January 2016