Produced by Belfast Association of University Teachers Issue No 1 January 1999
AUT Meeting with John McFaII, 6 Jan
AUT was represented by Renee Prendergast, Adrian McGinnis (UU) and Jonathan Whitehead (Regional office). Robson Davison accompanied the minister, John McFall.
1.Transition to Assembly
·Confirmed the establishment of a separate Department for "Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment" which should lead to a more ‘focused’ minister for our issues.
·Education is one of the issues for North-South consideration by the N-S Ministerial Council, but Teacher Qualifications is the only area identified that we may have an interest in.
·McFall has regularly met the parties’ education spokespeople and has recently raised specifically HE research and the desire to attract Challenge Funding for Science and Engineering.
·Consultation Paper on possible ways forward for HE and FE to be produced ‘soon’.
·Decision to be taken by the Assembly.
·Primary legislation in the Assembly will be needed to set up a funding council.
·Have been looking closely at the Scottish model but also at the Welsh one.
·McFall explained that HE had won extra funding from the CSR but would not say how much.
·Despite the CSR, decisions on funding for HE will follow the 'normal timetable' i.e. announcement mid-March.
4 Research Funding
·NIDevR ‘dead’ with no replacement. Would not elaborate on what will happen to the current ‘special funding’ element in the last two funding settlements.
·McFall, strongly influenced by the experience of Scottish universities, stressed that there is loads of cash out there (Challenge, Wellcome, OST, NI-specific funds etc.) i.e. NI universities should ‘go out there and get it’.
5 Student Places
·At least 2,000 extra places over the next three years.
·No decision yet about the division between UU and QUB.
·Will target three areas: Skills shortages, Access courses and High-Entry/Demand courses.
·Assembly, Council of the Isles and British-Irish Council represent a real opportunity for innovation and spread of Best Practice in all areas, but especially in HE.
·North-South developments are in the remit of the Assembly.
7 Effect of Fees
·Applications from students in the Republic markedly down this year but roughly the same number of final places taken up.
Academic Plan - Second Stage Review
Most of the members who applied under the terms of the second stage review received a response from the University on Friday 18 December. In some cases, the response was to indicate that further deliberations would be necessary before the case could be decided. In others, the response was negative. Sixteen members who had their case considered under option 1 received a positive response at this stage. Three members received the offer of transfers to academically related posts in Continuing Education and 5 members received offers of transfer to academically related posts under option 3.
Although the second stage review was originally proposed as a means of taking into account contributions other than research, its main function seems to have been a re-examination of the research potential of some of those previously deemed to have been research inactive. The number going to Continuing Education is small and is what the cognoscenti were predicting six months ago. The big change is that the posts are now academically-related rather than academic. Option 3 which was supposed to include all sorts of imaginative proposals as well as support for teaching and learning does not appear to have produced substantial results. I am not sure why this is the case but know of at least one sensible and imaginative proposal which was turned down flat.
Members who received negative responses have been offered interviews with the Director of Human Resources and the Chair of the Relevant Panel. Members remaining on the list who have not applied for early retirement, severance or second stage review will also be offered consultation with the Director of Human Resources in the near future. In either case, anyone proposing to avail of these interviews should arrange to be accompanied by an AUT representative. Ring 3090 for an appointment. Alternatively, contact one of the following directly:
Members who have been successful under options 2 or 3 of the second stage review are also advised to consult with AUT before agreeing to any changes in their contract.
Meetings for Special Groups of Members
On Thursday 25 February the AUT holds annual national meetings for Contract Research Staff, and for other types of fixed term staff in London. The morning will be taken up by a conference and workshop on ‘Negotiating a Better Deal for Fixed-term Staff’. Belfast AUT is entitled to send two representatives to each of these meetings.
The AUT holds an annual national meeting for women members in London on Thursday 4th March.
Finally, the AUT holds annual national meetings for Administrative Staff, for Library Staff and for Computer Staff in London on Friday 19 March. Belfast AUT is entitled to send two representatives to each of these three meetings (which share a plenary session). As part of our pay campaign and as a build up to the report of the Bett committee (now delayed till early May), AUT will hold a conference on the pay claim and associated issues on the morning of the meeting.
Any relevant member wanting to attend should express an interest to me. Travelling expenses and subsistence are paid and crèche facilities or a child-care allowance are available. We will convene local meetings of the relevant staff nearer to the dates to discuss the business and select the representatives.
Take Intellectual Property Rights Out of the Bin
Many AUT members shake their new copy of AUT Bulletin over the waste bin in order to get rid of the inserts. On this occasion the inserts include an AUT booklet on Intellectual Property Rights which could be of great value to you, so don’t throw it away. The AUT also has a help line for intellectual property problems; it is 0990 234 500.
Wanted for Telephone Interview
Kate Worsley is a freelance journalist who is writing a feature for the Times Higher Education Supplement. She wishes to interview those who have (voluntarily) given up an academic teaching or research career to pursue other interests or careers. She would like to discuss with them their reasons for going and their experiences. If you are interested phone 0181 348 5985 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Pension for Your Spouse or Dependant
If you die in service, USS pays out a lump sum of two and a half times your annual salary to a relative, dependant or beneficiary nominated by you. (Use form MO1 obtainable from QUB pensions office.) If you are married and living with your husband or wife at the time of your death USS pays a pension to your spouse which is normally half of the pension you would have received had you remained in the scheme until age 65. Up to two dependant children also qualify for a pension.
If you have retired when you die, the spouse’s pension is normally half of your pension. Up to two dependant children still qualify for a pension, but the lump sum will be much smaller or nil. See the USS booklets for full details.
If you are not married, a pension may be payable to a dependant when you die, whether you die in service, when you are a deferred pensioner or after you have retired. A dependant is someone who, in the opinion of USS Ltd. was either financially dependent on you at the time of your death or dependent because of any physical or mental disability. A dependant does not need to be a relative. If you are not married, but live with a partner who is dependent on you, including someone of the same sex, a pension may be payable. A dependant does not have to be wholly dependent on you to qualify for a pension.
If you are married but not living with your husband or wife at the time of your death, either in service or after retirement on the grounds of ill-health, USS must pay a pension to your spouse. It may be possible to pay part of the normal spouse’s pension to a dependant and part to your spouse. The amount of pension, which could be paid to a dependant, would depend on your age and service. Normally the younger you are the greater the amount of pension which could be paid to a dependant.
The total amount of pension payable to a dependant or to both a spouse and a dependant cannot exceed the amount which would have been payable to a spouse. The amount payable to a dependant can be divided amongst more than one dependant. USS Ltd cannot give a guarantee to a member concerning the eligibility of an individual or the amount of pension which might be payable because, in accordance with Inland Revenue requirements, this can he decided only having regard to the circumstances at the time of the member’s death. Nevertheless, helpful guidelines may be found on USS Factsheet 5.
If you would like to register the identity of your partner or someone else whom you believe to be dependent on you, a form (MO3) is available from QUB pensions office or, if you prefer, from USS Ltd. Completion of this form does not commit USS Ltd to pay a pension as that decision can be made only at the time of your death. If you do not wish your employer to see the information which you have entered on the form you can send it directly to USS Ltd.
If your spouse or dependant is more than 15 years younger than you are, the amount of pension is reduced from the figures above. This is to take account of the likelihood that the pension will be paid for longer than normal and is approximately 2.5% for each year of age disparity. However this reduction can be waived if person demonstrates hardship to the USS Advisory Committee.
You may want to provide a pension after your death to a dependant who does not qualify for a pension in their own right (e.g. a former spouse if you have remarried). You may also want to pay a larger pension to a dependant than allowed in the rules. If so, there is provision to surrender part of your own retirement pension and allocate it to a dependant. You can make an allocation within a month after your retirement. You may also make an allocation within six months after any marriage, separation or divorce in your retirement. See Allocation — a guide for members which is available from QUB pensions office.
Members about to retire should know that USS has amended its rules so that, within the limits set by the Inland Revenue, members can intimate before retirement whether they wish to convert any of their pension into an additional tax free lump sum or convert any of their lump sun into an additional pension.
For further information or quotations contact Abigail Larkin in the Bursar's Office.
A Woman’s Place?
The Fourth Report on Equal Opportunites produced by the Equal Opportunities Unit seems to indicate that the University’s Equal Opportunity Policies are generally bearing fruit. Notwithstanding this, it will not have escaped anyone’s attention that the upper echelons of the University are increasingly dominated by men in grey suits.
There are discouraging signs that the absence of women in high places may be leading to a lack of sensitivity with regard to issues such as child care provision. We have asked to be consulted about a review of childcare provision which we believe is currently being undertaken by Queen’s. We have not yet been consulted. However, it has been indicated to us that the University may wish to withdraw its present scheme whereby members failing to obtain a place in the Student Union Nursery are offered a subsidy equal to the difference between the cost of a nursery place in the SU nursery and one outside the University. We have indicated that, in the absence of increased provision for staff in the Student’s Union nursery, we would regard this as a retrograde step. We will keep you posted.