Classes at institutes of technology stop as lecturers strike

TUI move follows mounting concern over ‘crisis level’ cuts to funding, staff numbers

Some 4,000 lecturers are staging a one-day strike at Ireland’s 14 institutes of technology. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Some 4,000 lecturers are staging a one-day strike at Ireland’s 14 institutes of technology. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Thousands of students face disruption on Wednesday as a strike by 4,000 lecturers at the country’s 14 institutes of technology gets underway.

The one-day strike by lecturers and researchers follows mounting concern over “crisis-level” cuts to funding and staffing numbers.

While most institutes of technology will remain open today, the vast majority of classes and lectures are due to be cancelled.

Last December, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) voted in a national ballot by a margin of 92 per cent in favour of a campaign of industrial action up to and including strike action. The strike action is supported by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Among the union’s key concerns include a rapid rise in student numbers over a time when lecturer numbers have been cut, as well as the precarious employment status of many lecturers.

The TUI says there has been chronic underfunding of the sector with a 35 per cent cut since 2008.

In addition, it says “critically low” staffing levels in the sector at a time of a steep increases in student numbers are placing an unacceptable workload on lecturers.

The precarious employment status of many academic staff is another key issue, according to the union.

The union says it wants a commitment from Government to tackle the problems and greater engagement with the Department of Education.

The Department has said it has always been willing to engage constructively with unions and other stakeholders on the funding of higher education.

It says an expert group which is considering funding arrangements for the sector and has been tasked with identifying a range of approaches that, combined, will achieve a sustainable funding base into the future.

In addition, a group chaired by Michael Cush SC is examining the issue of casualisation at third level. Its report is due soon.

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