ITT Lecturers And Students Hold Protest Over Concerns

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ITT TUI Ursula Barret Steve Clifford Ben Slimm and Anne M C

Ursula Barrett, Steve Clifford, ITT SU President Ben Slimm and TUI ITT Branch Secretary, Anne M Courtney at the protest last Thursday.

LECTURERS and students at IT Tralee held a protest last Thursday outside the South Campus over funding and educational concerns.

It was part of the national protest by the Teacher’s Union of Ireland against the cutbacks in education, as the TUI Branch Secretary of ITT, Anne M Courtney explained.

“On a daily basis, lecturers see first-hand the damage that an era of austerity has wreaked on the education system. The austerity measures pursued by the government have taken almost €9 million out of the Institutes budgets between 2008 and 2015.  There is almost no money for the upgrading of equipment and facilities and investment in the latest technology,” she said.

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“Budget cuts have also meant that library opening hours, particularly in the South Campus are very restricted for the 1,000 students (approx.) who study there.  Student numbers are predicted to rise sharply in the next few years, yet the number of lecturing staff in Tralee has dropped by 26% since 2008 and the Employment Control Framework has prevented recruitment of permanent positions.  We are gravely concerned by the severe effects that these cutbacks are having on the quality of the learning experience for students in Tralee,” she said.

Lecturers and researchers will be balloted by TUI in the coming weeks on engagement in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in order to secure a resolution to key issues (below).

TUI is advocating more substantial and strategic budgets to support the regional mission of the Institutes and boost economic recovery at a local level.

They are urging that lecturers, students and all concerned in the locality make this an election issue in the coming months.

The TUI state that their areas of concern include:

• The chronic underfunding of the Institutes of Technology (35% cut to sector- €190m – between 2008 and 2015)

• The critically low staffing levels at a time of a steep and ongoing increase in student numbers and the consequential unacceptable workload imposition on lecturers.

• 21,411 or 32% rise in student numbers in sector between 2008 and 2015

• 535 or 9.5% fall in full-time academic staff numbers in sector between 2008 and 2015.

• The precarious employment status, income poverty and associated exploitation of many academic staff and

• The resulting, detrimental effect of these issues on the quality of service to students (larger class sizes, less access to laboratories, tutorials, student support etc

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