|Belfast AUT Newsletter||Issue no. 12 - December 2001|
||previous||next||RAE Results are good, but where's the money|
At the time of writing the results are embargoed, but you should get a Queen’s Now on Friday 14th December setting out the results. In general there has been a considerable improvement in grades, but this may not be matched by movement up the league tables because it is rumoured that there have been significant increases nation-wide. However, congratulations are due to all those who put in so much work, either directly or in support.
Whether there will be financial reward to the University or staff remains to be seen. AUT met with the officials of the Department of Employment and Learning on Tuesday and the news was not good. You may have read that the QR "pot of gold" in England will be so over-subscribed that payments for the new gradings may be postponed for a year. As Northern Ireland money is separate and the over-subscription may not be as great, AUT and the two universities argue that such a delay is not needed here. Even if we win that argument we are unlikely to be paid in full. Closely connected to this is the issue of whether RAE grades 3b and 3a should be funded in future. If not, then the research base for many subjects will disappear from the province with all the implications for teaching. There are hopes for more QR money for later years through the government’s Spending Review. However this would just be added to the lump sum for Northern Ireland and the Assembly could spend it on something else. At present they have many higher priorities than research and we all need to do a lot of lobbying even to get our fair share.
First indications of QUB’s reactions may be given at Senate on 18th December, but the funding picture will not be clear until at least Easter.
|contents||previous||next||HERA - Not just the Job|
HERA (Higher Education Role Analysis) is a computerised role analysis system which some people wish to apply as a means of job evaluation to all jobs in UK universities including those of all academic and related staff. Its supporters claim that it can be applied to all roles in Higher Education and that it can assess their relative value in a consistent and equitable manner. It has been developed by ECC Ltd. This is a private company established by higher education institutions and the directors of ECC Ltd are drawn largely from directors of personnel throughout the sector. The AUT are firmly opposed to the introduction of HERA for the staff that we represent. So we were alarmed when we were told that Queen’s had volunteered for a trial of HERA. QUB management have now denied this. However there is powerful support nationally for HERA, so we have not heard the last of it.
HERA analyses a job under fourteen factors: 1 Communication, 2 Teamwork and Motivation, 3 Liaison and Networking, 4 Service Delivery, 5 Decision Making Processes and Outcomes, 6 Planning and Organising Resources, 7 Initiative and Problem Solving, 8 Investigation, Analysis and Research, 9 Sensory and Physical Co-ordination, 10 Work Environment, 11 Pastoral Care and Welfare, 12 Coaching, Development and Instruction, 13 Teaching and Training, 14 Knowledge and Experience. Each factor is classified and scored at only three or four levels. The score for the role is just the sum of these components. Although the factors have slightly different weightings attached to them, these are the same across all university employment and do not reflect the importance of these factors in any particular job.
Because of the crudity of the levels, virtually all academic jobs would score the same on the main aspects of the job and should thus be paid the same. However some people would be able to pick up points under other factors. For instance, someone skilled in manipulation under a microscope might pickup points under factor 9, while someone involved in arduous fieldwork might collect points under 10. Thus HERA could draw distinctions between academics based upon aspects which have very little weight attached to them at present.
The supporters of HERA claim that it can form the basis of a pay and grading structure to address anomalies, particularly relating to gender, which may currently exist. AUT is sceptical of this reason since, at national level, employers have been slow to address Equal Opportunity issues more directly. MSF, UNISON and TGWU are concerned with aspects of HERA, but are willing to participate in trials. While recognising that others may feel it useful for their type of job, the AUT opposes job evaluation of the HERA type for academic and related staff. AUT is developing a form of job grading based on competencies which will address the Equal Opportunities issues.
HERA is jack of all trades and master of none. It evaluates the official job and not the performance of the individual in it. Most academic and related jobs are vaguely defined, and it would be contary to the ethos and success of the University to be more prescriptive. HERA does not take account of the fluid nature of academic work where staff may have the competencies to do a wide range of work, but may perform a narrower range of functions at any point in time. It also does not handle multiple, but temporary, roles common in universities.
HERA crudely reflects only a very few of the criteria which have been developed for academic promotion and discretionary pay and for professorial grading. Once HERA was in place, any criteria not included in HERA would have to be abandoned.
Because of the academic aspects involved in many academic related jobs, the same criticisms of HERA apply there. Its disadvantages compared to Hay are that it is based on a far cruder description of the job, it is a black box calculation, and there are no appeals.
|contents||previous||next||Childcare at Queen's|
When the Queen’s gender initiative was launched both the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar were pleased to note that promotion, not childcare, was the first priority issue for the majority of female staff in the university. To the credit of Professor Mullett, she declined to bury the issue. On becoming Director of the Gender Initiative, she pressed ahead with a survey of childcare needs in the University. The survey carried out by Dr Karen McElrath in Sociology and Social Policy revealed an enormous actual and potential demand for pre-school and out-of-school childcare in the university.
At present, the pre-school childcare facilities for staff in the University are extremely limited. 23 full time places have been made available to staff in the Student’s Union crèches. The part-time staff crèche in 1 Rugby Road provides 26 places for under threes for 33 weeks of the year, while the nursery in 1 Rugby Road provides 24 places for 3-4 year olds for 38 weeks of the year.
The crèche and nursery at 1 Rugby Rd operate mornings only. In the afternoons, the facility is used by the out-of- school club run by Moya Keatley. The club accommodates 30 children. It picks them up from local schools and organises homework and various activities during term time. During half-term and school holidays, it provides full time day care and activities. During four weeks of the summer holidays, the university provides a summer scheme for 160 children in the PEC.
Everyone now agrees that additional full-time childcare facilities for pre-school children is a major priority. The worry is that these new facilities could be at the expense of existing services provided in 1 Rugby Rd. The issues involved are being widely discussed and were debated vigorously at a recent meeting of the Women’s Forum. The forum agreed that there should be no question of requesting that out-of-school club at 1 Rugby Rd move to other premises unless ‘better’ accommodation was made available at some suitable central location. 1 Rugby Rd is one of the most highly utilised buildings in the University. It is suitable for its existing purposes and no doubt would be a suitable location for a new crèche. Those who use Rugby Rd would happily move to better accommodation, but they would equally happily remain where they are. Pre-school and ‘after school’ services are not alternatives. We need both. If we are going to expand provision, we need more suitable accommodation. There is no way around that, and grown ups should not pretend otherwise.
|contents||The General Secretary|
The post of General Secretary in AUT is meant to be more like a Civil Service Permanent Secretary than a General. Even though our General Secretary does not have a vote on the National Executive, by law they have to be elected in a national membership ballot. Our procedure to fill the vacancy has been to advertise for external and internal candidates who wish to be put forward in the election as the official candidate. Nine people applied. Five of these were interviewed by a shortlisting panel and two were sent forward to be interviewed by the National Executive. They selected Sally Hunt and she will go into the election as the official candidate. There are also two members of the National Executive who have entered the election directly. They are John Duffy (Birmingham) and Martin Hughes (Durham) and they now have a few days to decide whether they are satisfied with the choice of the Executive or wish to proceed to ballot. If they press their candidature a postal ballot of all members will be held in the New Year.
Sally Hunt, 37, is currently an Assistant General Secretary at AUT HQ. She has been with us for seven years and previously worked for a building society trade union. She has specialised in recruitment and equal opportunities and most who have met her will have been struck by her potential. However she has not been very high profile in recent times as she was absent on maternity and family responsibility leave for about a year. She said: "I intend to work with the membership to raise the profile of higher education as the powerhouse of the UK economy. I want to lead a radical, campaigning union that represents all academic and academic related staff and ensure that the AUT is at the forefront of a renewed campaign for excellence in our education system.
In January and February we hold local meetings for various specialist groups to transact business for the corresponding national meetings, and to choose representatives to them. Details of some of the meetings are given below. In addition we ask if there is anyone interested in attending the TUC Women’s Conference (Eastbourne 13-15 March), the TUC Black Workers’ Conference (Southport 12-14 April), and the TUC Lesbian and Gay Conference (London 4-5 July). In each case the numbers are limited (4, 2, 2 respectively for the whole of AUT) and the representatives are elected by AUT Council. If you are interested contact Susan Harte (ext 3800) or HQ by 10th January.
|contents||Open meeting for Contract Staff|
There will be a open meeting for all academic and related staff (such as research staff and teaching assistants) who are employed on fixed term contracts. We cannot reliably contact all such staff and we would ask you to bring the meeting to the notice of anybody whom you may think is in this category. The meeting is at
1 p.m. on Tuesday 15th January
in the Room G001, David Bates Building
The main purpose of the meeting is to hear how the Concordat is being implemented in practice, and to discuss how the status and conditions for contract staff can be improved. The other purpose is to elect AUT members to attend the national AUT meeting of contract staff on Thursday 21 February in London, and to decide if we wish to send any motions to that meeting.
|contents||Meeting for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Members|
1 p.m. on Wednesday 16th January
in the Old Staff Common Room
One purpose of the meeting is to discuss any problems specific to this group. The another purpose is to elect AUT members to attend the national AUT meeting of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Members and other equal opportunities groups in London on Friday 1st March, and to decide if we wish to send any motions to that meeting. A third purpose is to see if any member of this group wishes to be nominated for the national AUT Equal Opportunities Committee.
|contents||Meeting for Black and Ethnic Minority Members|
1 p.m. on Friday 25 January
in the Newark Room, Lanyon South
One purpose of the meeting is to discuss any problems specific to this group. The another purpose is to elect AUT members to attend the national AUT meeting of Black and Ethnic Minority Members and other equal opportunities groups on Friday 1 March in London, and to decide if we wish to send any motions to that meeting. A third purpose is to see if any member of this group wishes to be nominated for the national AUT Equal Opportunities Committee.
Although the local Officers and General Members are elected at our AGM in June, the constituency representatives are elected at this time of year by single transferable vote. The constituencies are:
If you have any doubts as to which constituency you are in you should consult me.
Each nomination for each constituency shall be made from the membership of that constituency by two members of that constituency and must be accompanied by the written consent of the nominee. It should be sent to me by 5 p.m. on 17th January 2002. We are particularly anxious for nominations for Humanities and for Research Staff since we have a vacancies there.
Susan Harte, Lifelong Learning