Belfast AUT Newsletter Issue no. 7- June 2002
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This description is based on the document itself (copies are available for consultation in the AUT room level 1 Admin) and discussions with V-C etc. on 10 June 2002. The objectives, criteria and supporting data are as described in our last our last Newsletter.
"An £84.1M plan" but this includes projects, mainly capital, such as SPUR which have already been announced. The actual plan involves about £25M, but the bulk of this is reallocation of existing money. The management say that there is no financial crisis; the plan is not financially driven and its aim is to improve quality.

An estimated £4.5M will be spent on restructuring (early retirement or severance) and this will come from money already set aside (£1.3M) or from reserves. It is the intention to roughly balance the budget in each year, and the net additional cost of the whole plan is about £4M. The hoped for improvement in QR earnings in the 2006 RAE is £4.227 in Scenario 1 and £2.103 in Scenario 2 (see appendix 15). Both these assume only a 15% growth in RAE shares elsewhere, and in 2001 there was a much bigger growth in the shares that had to come out of the RAE cake. However, if the net cost is only £4M there is a good prospect in recouping this from the next RAE.

44 new academic staff (including the replacement of 11 normal retirees) will be appointed and these are not conditional on disinvestment. Disinvestment means savings from general funds by the loss of posts etc. or the transfer of the cost to external funding such as research grants. A further 39 new academic staff will be appointed conditional on disinvestment taking place. 23 normal retirees will not be replaced, and 59 staff will be offered early retirement or severance, so there could be a marginal increase in academic staff. Details are tabulated in appendices 12 and 13. There will be considerable redistribution of academic posts and of secretarial staff, technicians and other resources. The growth in research should mean more Research Assistants and Fellows. Budgets for Schools will be much closer to balance.

The 59 staff will be offered voluntary retirement/severance under the new full terms. They are mainly staff not included in the RAE unless omitted for strategic reasons. Of these 29 will be Research Officers and Senior R O's where they have a year in which to leave or to have their salaries transferred to research grants etc., (see later for more details). The offer of one year's re-employment on 1/3 salary only applies to people leaving by 30 September 2002 and does not apply to ROs and SROs. The full terms package is not available to anyone else, but existing (2/3 of maximum) scheme is still available, if in the managerial interest.

Other general aspects of the plan are 87 new research studentships introduced at a rate of 29 per year, and start-up packages for new staff that could range up to £30K. They also want to improve the efficiency of teaching by reducing options, and by having a common Level 1 in engineering.

Each School has about half a page devoted to it setting out planned investment and disinvestment, and target student FTEs and RAE grades. We cannot summarise them all, and will pick out those with the most drastic changes.
The Centre for European Studies will be merged with Politics to form a School of Politics & International Relations.
The Institute of Life-long Learning is to concentrate on life-long learning and Continuous Professional Development. The part-time degree and Foundation Degrees will be mainstreamed into Schools. Community Services are to be transferred to the Research & Regional Office. Access courses (including Discovering Queen's) are to be moved to the Academic Registry. There is to be a new management structure for TEFL and it may be moved.

The four permanent academic staff in the Institute of Irish Studies will be dispersed to relevant Schools. Then the 30+ staff with an interest in Irish Studies in the various Schools will be made associate members of the Institute. A Director will be chosen from these.
After this Autumn's intake, no students to be admitted to pathways for Greek, Latin, Classical Studies, or Classics. This means a three year run-down of teaching in these areas. There was a similar proposal for Philosophical studies, but they were given a last minute reprieve, although with a halving of the staff. Philosophy has 8 staff at present, 3 of whom are under the age of 55.
The 3 staff teaching Ancient History will be transferred to Modern History (to become History). There are 3 other staff in Classics who teach mainly on the pathways to be closed. The reason given for closure is the low student numbers, but there has been a recent upturn, and this proposal will be disputed, especially at Academic Council.
Paul Hudson

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext The Assumptions

In evaluating the plan we need to look at the assumptions behind the sums. If any of these are in error the plan could be thrown off course.
A key assumption is that the RAE QR earnings for 2002/3 (£14.2M) will be boosted by £2.5M per annum in subsequent years. "Given our discussions with DEL and the priority for additional research funding identified nationally, and in the 2002 Spending Review, the University is confident this assumption is conservative."

The forecasts assume that research grants and contracts increase from £27.8M in 2001/2 to £44.4M in 2005/6 and, more importantly, that the contribution to indirect costs increases from £2.6M to £4.4M.

It is assumed that the very tightly prescribed funding for the Rewarding and Developing Staff initiative will be consolidated into baseline funding at year 3 level (£2.6M).

A slow expansion of student numbers is also assumed. For overseas students this is at the rate of 3% per annum. For home and EU undergraduates and extra 100 in price group B are assumed each year.

There are some other possible developments such as an expansion in the NHS related disciplines and a new SPUR round. These will not divert the plan as they should be fully funded.

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext Trade Union Aspects

Some members in Irish Studies and in Lifelong Learning face transfer to other units and some of those in merged academic units may also face changes of duty. AUT will give advice and help to these on an individual or small group basis. We will deal in a similar manner with problems arising from changing workload in Schools. Many may believe that the higher research grades expected will be difficult to achieve with the resources provided. (But check Scenario 2 in appendix 15.) The loss of Research Officers and technicians will particularly hamper research in the laboratory subjects.

The main problem is with those offered early retirement or severance. Section 8.3 of the document says this is on a voluntary basis, but this is modified later for some groups.

For the 29 Research Officers (ROs) and Senior Research Officers (SROs) not included in RAE 2001 the offer is available for one year only. Given the age profile of this group, quite a few may accept. If they wish to stay, then the School must try to get their salary transferred to external funding such as a research contract. If they have not been transferred off general funds after a year, then they will be included in the calculation of the student staff ratio for the School. This will make it more difficult for the School to get new or replacement resources. If the Head of School does not want this, then "redeployment and redundancy procedures will apply".

For the three staff involved in the teaching of classical languages and literature there would be a run-down of teaching over three years. The University would "¼ consider all appropriate opportunities for redeployment, within and without the University. Where this does not result in the required staff reduction, compulsory redundancy will be invoked only as a last resort." In fact compulsory redundancy is not a possibility for the two staff who have old-style tenure.

As was decided at our General Meeting, if it came to a crunch Belfast AUT would use all means available including blacklisting and industrial action to prevent compulsory redundancies. However, we believe that with sensitive handling and the retention of some subsidiary teaching such a crunch is avoidable.

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Report on the Special General Meeting

More than a hundred members attended the Special general Meeting on 12 June. Paul Hudson outlined the Strategic Plan as the V-C had described it in a meeting with AUT on 10 June. In response to questions, the AUT Officers expanded upon points as they could. The meeting went on to discuss the implications, especially of a trade union nature. As a guide for the AUT Officers over the Summer the meeting passed two motions nem con. (Note this was before the partial reprieve of Philosophical Studies was announced.)

"This meeting deplores the University's proposals to cease to recruit students to Classics as part of its strategic plan for the period to 2006/7. This meeting instructs Belfast AUT to:

  • consult with and support classics and philosophy staff in the development of an effective campaign aimed at maintaining teaching and research in these subject areas in Queen's and in Northern Ireland;
  • provide support and advice to the staff concerned in relation to redeployment, transfer to other institutions, early retirement or severance;
  • use all means available including blacklisting and industrial action to prevent compulsory redundancies."


"This meeting notes the University's proposal to cease to fund centrally and to offer early retirement/severance packages to 29 ROs and SROs not included in the 2001 RAE. This meeting declares that the transfer of financial responsibility for these staff to Schools does not alter their status as employees of QUB. This meeting instructs Belfast AUT to:

  • organise a meeting of this group of staff with a view to identifying appropriate campaigning issues in relation to their status;
  • provide support and advice to the staff concerned on early retirement or severance and redeployment;
  • use all means available including blacklisting and industrial action to prevent compulsory redundancies."

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Seminar on USS Pensions

Max Goldstrom will give a briefing on pensions to cover normal retirement and premature retirement under the Queen's scheme. He will also give an update on the health of USS finances and on the (now unlikely) move to accumulating pensions at the rate of 60 ths. The Meeting is:

Monday 1 July, 1p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Room 106, Peter Froggett Centre
(Bring your own sandwiches.)

Please indicate your attendance to:

Patricia McKnight,
AUT Office Admin Building,
ext 3256,

Max will also give advice to individual members on early retirement offers. Book a meeting by phoning ext 3256.

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Meeting for Research Officers

We will be holding a meeting for all members who are Research Officers, Senior Research Officers, etc. to discuss how the Academic Strategy affects them.

Monday 24 June, 1p.m.
In Room 207, Peter Froggett Centre

Paul Hudson

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Fixed Term Contracts

Annual General Meeting
Thursday 27th June at 1.05 p.m.
G06 Peter Froggett Centre
(Note change of date and venue.)


  1. Minutes and matters arising.
  2. Election of Officers and General Members.
  3. Reports from the Outgoing Officers.
  4. Setting of the Local Subscription and the Appointment of Auditors.
  5. Address by the National Past President, Allan Carr: "Progress on Pay"
  6. Update on QUB Strategic Plan and AUT Actions
  7. Any other business.

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  Committee Elections

As they were the only candidates nominated the following will be automatically elected at the AGM:

President Dr Paul Hudson Maths & Physics
Honorary Secretary Ms Susan Harte Lifelong Learning
Secretary for Local Issues Dr John Lynch Lifelong Learning
Honorary Treasurer Dr J Max Goldstrom AUT Office, Admin
Membership Secretary Lynne Press Italian
Assistant Secretary Mr George Dunn Computing Services
Dr Renee Prendergast remains ex-officio Vice-President.

The nominations for the General Member places are:

Mr Richard Jay Lifelong Learning
Dr W Duncan Mercer Biology & Biochemistry
Ms Norma Menabney Library
Dr Julian Warner Management & Economics

As there are four vacancies, these people are duly elected. If there is anyone else interested in joining the Committee, they should speak to an officer as we may be able to accommodate them through co-option or a constituency vacancy.

Susan Harte, Honorary Secretary

© 2002 Belfast Association of University Teachers
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