Monday 22 April 2019

Colleges facing chaos as axe hangs over 750 posts

Katherine Donnelly

UP to 750 jobs are to be cut in universities and other third-level colleges by December.

Lecturers and academics will account for one third of the job losses, the Irish Independent has learned.

Academics, research staff and administrative, technical and other support posts will be equally affected by the instructions to reduce numbers by 3pc by December.

Colleges have been given clear instructions on the number of jobs that must disappear -- and how to do it.

The move will mean the loss of about 140 academic jobs.

The higher education sector currently employs about 25,000 people in total -- so the overall loss of jobs will be up to 750.

There will be no compulsory redundancies and the cuts will be achieved through non-filling of posts and the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts. The move is part of the Government's effort to slash the size and cost of the public sector.

The cutbacks mean that colleges also have to get special approval to fill certain jobs.

But a union leader last night claimed the time involved in getting approval is causing mayhem in the run-up to the new term. A college would seek such permission where a job is considered essential, such as a front-line teaching position.

Exemption

Where a college seeks an exemption to fill a vacancy, it must get permission from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the Department of Education and the Department of Finance.

It must complete a form explaining the basis for filling the post and, in the case of lecturers, confirm all existing lecturing capacity is being used

In the case of lecturers, colleges have been advised that they won't get approval in the absence of confirmation that all available lecturing capacity is already being used. The HEA has put in place an Employment Control Framework setting out how the colleges are to achieve the cuts.

In the case of academics, the HEA has notified each individual college of the actual number of academic/teaching posts that must go.

Colleges have some discretion about what academic posts should be suppressed, but must deliver on the December 2009 bottom line figure dictated by the HEA. In the case of administrative, technical and other support jobs, vacancies may not be filled, contracts may not be renewed and no new posts may be created.

Teachers Union of Ireland general secretary Peter McMenamin, said it was "making it impossible for colleges to have courses up and running by the beginning of the year".

He said the HEA had told colleges that applications for approval would be cleared by the end of this month, but added there was still a huge air of uncertainty and colleges did not know where they stood.

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