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EDITIONS
Saturday, 26 May, 2001, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Universities 'face staff shortages'
lecture
Natfhe says there is a "haemorrhage of teaching staff"
Universities and colleges in the UK are facing "unprecedented" difficulties in recruiting staff, according to the lecturers' union Natfhe.

The union, which has been campaigning for better pay and conditions for lecturers in both further and higher education, says it is not just schools which face a teacher shortage.


Why stop around where you're not respected?

Paul Mackney
Natfhe said recent research by ORC International showed FE colleges were finding it hard to recruit staff in agriculture, science, information technology, engineering and construction.

And a report by the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) suggests the HE sector is suffering shortages in law, electronics, education, computing and accounting, a Natfhe spokeswoman said.

Speaking at Natfhe's annual conference in Scarborough, the union's leader, Paul Mackney, said: "Universities face unprecedented difficulties in recruiting suitable staff".

There was evidence of the beginnings of a haemorrhage of teaching staff from colleges to sixth forms, schools and industry, Mr Mackney said.

"Why stop around where you're not respected?" he asked delegates.

'Under-staffing'

"In addition there is also a hidden shortage of lecturers in FE and HE - disguised by under-staffing where every two lecturers are doing the work of three or four," Mr Mackney said.

The result was that students were being short-changed, he said.

"Their class hours are often reduced and replaced by the myth of self-directed learning.

"More and more lecturers are forced to cut down on individual help for students to avoid falling sick. As one lecturer put it to me: 'The only way to survive is not to care'," Mr Mackney said.

Supplemented incomes

Natfhe president Jacqui Johnson told delegates at the conference that she had met lecturers who qualified for national assistance to supplement their incomes.


Earmarked funding for pay is the only way to sort this mess out

Jacqui Johnson
She condemned the "appalling" rate for hourly paid lecturers in colleges.

"At 13.72, today's average lowest hourly rate is only 34p more than the 1991 rate of 13.38, whilst the equivalent maximum rate is over 1 less," Ms Johnson told delegates.

"Earmarked funding for pay is the only way to sort this mess out," she said.

"The attitude to lecturers - truly the key resource in education and training - that informs the wages chaos, all that has to go. The stifling, backward, bureaucratic legacy of the 90s can be binned," she said.

Industrial action

Last week the union faced criticism for organising a one-day strike among staff at FE colleges during the exam season.

The lecturers have rejected a 3% pay offer from their employers and are demanding a flat rate rise of 3,000 for all FE lecturers and managers.

The action by FE staff came as members of Natfhe in the HE sector ("new universities") were recommended to give a "reluctant acceptance" to a 4.3% pay offer from the UCEA.

See also:

22 May 01 | UK Education
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18 Jan 00 | UK Education
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