It’s been another extremely busy, challenging but successful year for IFUT and our members.
We may be a relatively small organisation but Covid didn’t make any exceptions in its demands based on our size.
The extent and outfall of the crisis resulting from the pandemic has put enormous strain on all sectors of our society and economy. Many sectors will indeed struggle to survive or will spend years in recovery.
It is a tribute, therefore, to our branches and members around the colleges that we met every challenge head on and refused to buckle. And in the process delivered solutions that maintained the consistent high standard of teaching and education for which higher education in Ireland has become renowned.
Classes, tutorials and mentoring were provided almost without exception and necessary in-person and online education approaches were developed and adopted comprehensively.
2021 was the year when other stakeholders in higher education identified the benefits of working closely and in co-operation with IFUT.
- Health and safety measures in all colleges were informed and enhanced by detailed contributions and proposals from our members locally.
- College HR departments engaged with IFUT representatives on a wide range of issues related to better approaches to education and unemployment.
- The Minister and Department of Higher Education involved IFUT in its discussions on resumption of in-person learning and anti-Covid measures.
- Greater co-operation developed between IFUT and other teaching Unions that facilitated a more co-ordinated approach to the many issues, Covid and non-Covid, that continue to threaten higher education.
Of course not all of the above engagements delivered on all of IFUT’s policies and proposals. Far from it. But the nature of negotiation is just that - making progress on issues while continuing to strive for future improvement.
In that regard, the successful election of Frank Jones, IFUT’s General Secretary, onto the Executive of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions at its 2021 Biennial Delegate Conference is a further major achievement and milestone.
IFUT is now centrally involved in working with other teacher unions and trade unions generally, to address key issues related to pay, conditions, precarity and post-Covid investment in higher education.
2022 will present further and perhaps unknown challenges (new Covid variants not withstanding) as our higher education system slowly emerges from the devastation of the past two years. Joint approaches are necessary to ensure we best address all the issues.
Shakespeare’s quote from A Midsummers Night’s Dream - “though she may be little, she is fierce” may have a real ring of truth. Yet however fierce we may be in our determination to deliver for our members, for our students and for higher education generally, developing closer working and co-operation links with all other stakeholders will open up additional opportunities and progress.
The key point is that this Christmastime, more than ever, IFUT can shine a brighter light for all on both the challenges and solutions to be processed as we enter 2022.
Never, indeed, was small more beautiful!