|Belfast AUT Newsletter||Issue no. 12 - October 2002|
|Special Edition on University Funding Crisis||printable formats|
||previous||next||Demonstration on 6th November 2002|
We need to raise public awareness of the research funding crisis and its implications for developing a knowledge-based economy, and to put pressure on the politicians. AUT from QUB, UU and the Open University together with Amicus will hold a lunchtime mass demonstration outside the city centre HQ of the Department of Employment and Learning,at Adelaide House, Adelaide Street.
We will then walk to Adelaide House to meet others for the demonstration. You should be able to get back to Queen's by 2 p.m.
To emphasise the
connection between research and economic growth, our slogan will be "Research
|contents||previous||next||The Campaign Develops|
Senate (the governing body of Queen's) met on Friday 25 October. The V-C described the loss of the promised research funding as the gravest crisis to face Queen's in his time. He expanded on the briefing document that he had given Senate, and explained that he had recently written to the Secretary of State, John Reid. The various political upheavals had disrupted the campaign. The members of Senate were astonished that the public had paid so little attention to the matter given the implications for a knowledge-based economy. Queen's should be seeking the support of the CBI and the Chamber of Commerce. The two members of Senate who are politicians, Stephen King and Peter Weir, were strongly supportive. However the President of the Student's Union was content with the draft budget as it had increased student support. Referring to the loss of Greek and Latin, the V-C said that, if the funding were not restored, there would be more subject cuts to come. He appealed to people to write to the press and to emphasise the implications for the community and students.
On Tuesday 29 October AUT representatives met with Robson Davison and David McAuley, senior Civil Servants in the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL). They were apologetic that DEL had not secured the funds. A large part of the budget allocation had gone to health and we would be unwise to lobby for the removal of money from health to be put back into education. We should try to get the business community on our side by emphasising the economic impact. The local politicians would be back in business eventually, but, at present, only the direct rule ministers are worth lobbying, and the deadline is early December.
Afterwards the AUT representatives held a council of war. AUT will write to the Minister responsible for HE, Jane Kennedy, seeking an immediate meeting. Failing that, we will write to the other minister, Ian Pearson, who is responsible for economic development. After a meeting with the ministers, AUT will arrange to meet the Secretary of State. The AUT will contact the CBI, the Chamber of Commerce and Invest Northern Ireland. Is was felt that lobbying MLAs would not be productive at present, but that we should return to this nearer the Assembly elections. For that reason the Advocacy on Line facility on the national AUT website will not be used yet.
The main activities for AUT members are to be the demonstration and a letter writing campaign. If you personally know a politician or a member of the Northern Ireland Higher Education Council (NIHEC) by all means let them know how you feel. However, the main target of letter writing should be the press in order to raise public opinion. Paul Hudson had a letter published in the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday. You can follow this up, or start correspondence in other papers. There is plenty of information to use in the last two newsletters, and more is given below. We will put a summary on the Belfast AUT website quis.qub.ac.uk/aut Also available will be a skeleton letter which you can adapt and develop as you feel appropriate. Please do not just copy it out, but personalise it by saying how the cuts may affect you, and tell them about the importance of your research and what the loss of your subject would mean to potential students and the province.
The funding bids by DEL were for:
None of these items appear in the draft Northern Ireland budget!
In contrast, HM Treasury will increase spending on science and innovation by £1¼ billion in 2005/06 compared to 2002/03. This includes:
QUB has frozen new appointments as a precaution, Otherwise there are no plans as to how the university would respond to the funding cut, as everybody is concentrating on avoiding the situation. QUB had budgeted for £2.5M of the research funding in each academic year after the present one. As you can see above, parity of funding with GB would have brought us far more. Without these resources many academics and researchers will reluctantly move elsewhere to preserve their careers. Research teams will break up and subjects weakened in a unpredictable way. With greatly reduced research funding the pecking order will be reversed, and those subjects with the highest proportion of their income from teaching will be least at risk.
As three quarters of QUB expenditure is on pay, and with half the QUB reserves spent on the previous Academic Plan, job losses are inevitable.