In recent weeks IFUT Head Office, with input from our Executive Committee, Council, Branches and some Individual members, have been preparing a document in response to the Higher Education Authority Bill 2022. This paper is directed towards matters of real concern to those that IFUT represent across the sector with particular focus on Academic Freedom, Institutional Autonomy and Governance Issues, Funding and Research. The key points raised in the document include:
• Governing bodies to be of adequate size to allow representation from all stakeholders in higher education.
• Retention of the role of the HEA as the central policy implementation organisation for higher education.
• Clarification that the HEA provides general oversight for universities, while internal governing bodies retain autonomy in decision making,
• Guarantees in the Bill to protect academic freedom, to include research autonomy.
• A recognition that strengthening of governance and regulatory requirements must be delivered in an environment of increased and adequate state funding.
• Measures to be included which address both discrimination against research and researchers and the proliferation of precarious employment contracts and practices in our universities.
• Nothing in the Bill should enshrine or facilitate a right of Universities to retain the intellectual property of Lecturers.
• All legislative reform must be based on the Programme for Government’s commitment to ‘develop a long-term sustainable funding model for higher education, in collaboration with the sector.’
The document can be read in full on our website through this link. In the coming weeks we, in Head Office, will be engaging in an intensive lobbying campaign involving all of the education and higher education Spokespeople across all of the political parties. We are calling upon our members to make their concerns known to their political connections and to that end we hope that the IFUT Paper is of assistance.