Higher Education E-Bulletin Issue 27 December 2007 Issue 27 December 2007

  • Universities Scotland warns of 40m shortfall in wake of funding settlement
  • Physics funding being slashed in Scotland
  • New report shows that HR activity is having little influence on performance
  • New Research Excellence Framework (REF) proposals published
  • New research posts get 44.5m funding in Ireland
  • Watch Your Step in Education HSE courses
  • And finally…


Negotiations over the future structure of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff Committee (JNCHES) have been taking place over the past few months.

The 2001 agreement which established JNCHES included transitional provisions, and provided for review of the then new negotiating arrangements in the light of experience. Last year’s JNCHES Pay Agreement 2006-09 finally put this review in train.

A provisional agreement has been reached with all HE trade unions on the reform of the JNCHES negotiating machinery. Unions have already agreed in principle and will be confirming the agreement through their formal processes.

National Officer Mike Robinson said Unite has worked hard to get an acceptable deal for members on the new structure of JNCHES. In particular we have defended the principle of national bargaining and a single table.

To read the statements on the changes on the UCEA website click here:

Universities Scotland warns of 40m shortfall in wake of funding settlement

Scottish Vice Chancellors have recently been quoted as saying that the staff pay bill will help drive Scottish universities into a 40 million deficit for next year.

Universities Scotland , the vice-chancellors umbrella body, expressed its disappointment when the Scottish Government said last month that the higher education budget would rise by 30 million – 138 million short of what vice-chancellors had asked for.

The body expresses concern about having to absorb the cost of the UK-wide 2006 pay settlement that will see an increase of 13.1 per cent over three years.

National Officer Mike Robinson said Unite expects all universities to respect the deal that was agreed in last years pay negotiations. The government needs to provide universities with adequate and sustainable funding to pay their staff.

Physics funding being slashed in Scotland

The STFC, which funds research in physics, astronomy and space science, warned last month that the 13.6 per cent rise in the council’s budget by 2011 would leave it with an 80 million shortfall and that withdrawal from some projects was inevitable.

Its three-year delivery plan, published this week, details the cancellation of major projects and facilities such as the International Linear Collider particle accelerator and subscription to the Gemini Observatory, which operates space telescopes.

The plan says the council would also “revisit the ongoing level” of investment in several other projects, reduce infrastructure costs, create a “more flexible workforce” and reduce spending on exploitation grants.

Universities UK said that an informal survey of its members had shown that the STFC funding shortfall would result in “significant loss of staff at all levels” and would put the UK ‘s world-leader position on several projects at risk.

If you think that this is going to effect your department or members in your university please contact your regional officer as soon as possible.

To see advice on redundancy on the Unite Amicus section website click here.

Click here to read the full article on the Times Higher website:

New report shows that HR activity is having little influence on performance

A survey carried out on behalf of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education has shown that although universities’ HR directors say they now have well-integrated human resources strategies, there is no demonstrable correlation between HR activity and the overall performance of universities against standard performance indicators such as league tables.

Since 2000, the sector has seen an investment of 880 million under the Government’s human resources “rewarding and developing staff” initiative. However, HR directors responding to the survey admitted that they were not certain that the strategies they had put in place were effectively communicated to the staff who have to implement their policies and practices as line managers.

The report, Human Resource Management and University Performance , found that the least effective practices in higher education HR included performance management, succession planning and managing poor performance.

More than half (51 per cent) said they were keen to introduce formal performance management and leadership development programmes to their university.

Human Resource Management and University Performance was published last week. It can be viewed at the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education website

New Research Excellence Framework (REF) proposals published

Details of the new funding system – the research excellence framework – to replace the current RAE were released on November 22 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and are currently open to consultation.

Under the new system, research quality in science subjects will be assessed by drawing up profiles for universities across six large subject areas. These will be based on the number of times academics’ papers are cited by others above the average rate in a field. Overseen by peer panels, the data will be combined with metrics on research income and students numbers to determine the allocation of 1.4 billion in research funding starting from 2010.

To find out more about the proposals on the HEFCE website click here

New research posts get 44.5m funding in Ireland

Nearly 70 new science research posts will be created with funding of 44.55 million announced by Minister for Enterprise , Trade and Employment Michel Martin today.

The 67 posts in higher education institutes will be funded under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Stokes Professorship and Lectureship Programme.

National Officer Mike Robinson said this is great news for the sector and we hope that this funding will also go towards funding the hardworking technical and support staff that make Irish universities the success that they are.

To read the full press release from the SFI website click here

Watch Your Step in Education HSE courses

55% of all accidents in education are caused by a slip or a trip. Last year, almost 2000 major injury slip and trip accidents in the education sector were reported to the Health and Safety Executive, 571 of which were to employees, a 5% rise on the previous year. 90% of major accidents resulted in a broken bone causing considerable personal distress and a significant amount of time away from work.

To attend the Health and Safety executives courses follow the links below.

Web site Events – several events already arranged. To register an interest in attending fill in the ‘contact us’ page.

And finally…

From all of us in the Unite Amicus section Education Sector team Seasons greetings and all the best for the holiday period.

See you in the New Year!
Mike Robinson, Vera Titmus and James Lazou

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