A constructive meeting was held today between IFUT's General Secretary, Frank Jones, and Sinn Féin's Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Mairéad Farrell TD. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss IFUT's pre-budget submission and to address various pressing concerns that impact both the Higher and Further Education sector.
During the discussions, Mr Jones took the opportunity to highlight a series of issues that are problematic across the sector. A noteworthy point raised by IFUT in this regard pertains to the continuing utilisation of the Employment Control Framework (ECF) - a mechanism introduced during the economic recession that places constraints on staffing levels within universities. Despite acknowledgements by successive governments for the need to abolish the ECF, it remains in effect, causing mounting frustration within the sector.
IFUT contends that the ECF needs to be scrapped. Universities need adequate resourcing to facilitate the recruitment of additional academic staff members on decent and fair work contracts. This is crucial not only for the benefit of educators but also to enhance the overall educational experience for students. The ongoing retention of the ECF will have disastrous long-term effects on Higher Education.
“While we welcome recent announcements from Minister Harris regarding additional staffing within universities, the measure is at best running to a standstill,” commented Mr Jones.
As the Government prepares for its upcoming budget, IFUT calls upon policymakers and stakeholders to heed the collective voice advocating for reform. The time is now for decisive action to dismantle the barriers posed by the ECF and to prioritise the allocation of resources that will reinvigorate academia, support educators, and provide students with the learning environment that they deserve.