Dear EIS members
Though teaching has now in theory stopped for the summer, many of you will be preparing for the new academic year and the challenges these strange times bring to the sector.
EIS staff and Officers are also continuing to work through the summer months to ensure that when staff and students do return to campuses, we have made them as safe as we can. We continue to work with and input to the Scottish Government policy on updating the guidance as we move through the various phases of leaving lockdown.
Yesterday, we received notice from the Government that they are now moving into Phase 3 of the plan to release lockdown restrictions, and this has some implications for our members in FE.
The most important of these changes are that:
From 13th July, time-sensitive, mandatory or regulated skills assessments that are essential to the completion of Modern Apprenticeship/qualifications or to comply with a legal obligation, can resume in Colleges. Face-to-face youth work can also resume outdoors from this date.
From 22nd July, Universities and Colleges can have a phased return with a blended model of remote learning and limited on campus learning where this is a priority. In addition, a safe restart of University and College halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation (in line with guidance to be published shortly) and Community Learning and Development activity including adult learning can restart in line with published guidance.
If you are a member of staff who is required to attend the campus in person, this should only be required with a proper risk assessment in place for your area of work, and where necessary for you as an individual member of staff. At this time the 2m social distancing rules remain in place for University campuses.
If you have any concerns about what you are being asked to do, please contact your local Branch Reps in the first instance.
As it is developed, the most up to date COVID-19 advice can be located on the EIS website.
The FE/HE Minister, Richard Lochhead MSP has instructed the Scottish Funding Council to undertake a review of "Coherent Provision and Sustainability in FE & HE." EIS is awaiting a timeline and protocol for our engagement with this review but we will be making a submission to this review.
Given the significant challenges the sector has in the coming financial year we will be making robust representations about the proper state funding of Universities and the current over reliance on International students to provide those funds. It is predicted that every University in Scotland will be in deficit in the 2020/21 financial year.
No further offer has been formally received on pay for the 2019/20 pay round. A document has been circulated to us which addresses some other elements of the pay claim (which did not form part of our dispute), specifically regarding equalities which has been offered to UCU.
They will now have a consultative ballot of their members on this with a recommendation of rejection. This means that at this time both academic unions remain in dispute over the 2019/20 pay round at this time. We will keep you informed of any further developments as they happen.
As you will be aware, an agreement was reached between UCEA and the Unions to pause the normal pay negotiations round for 20/21 because of the pandemic. The first reconvened meeting took place this week.
UCEA have now clarified that they are offering 0% on the pay element of the claim for this academic year. However, they have agreed to a meeting to review finances again in August with a view to possibly bringing forward the 2021/22 pay round. They have also agreed to a separate set of meetings to discuss the other elements of the pay claim over the coming months. The ULA Executive Committee will meet in August to discuss our response to this lack of any offer on the inflationary uplift element of pay.
A webinar on Health and Safety was held for members via WebEx. For those who could not attend in person, a video has been put on the website for you to access.
I hope you all have a restful break over the summer and will keep you updated as things develop.
National Officer for HE/FE