IT lecturers protest over cuts

Lecturers from all 14 Institutes of Technology (ITs) protested over cuts to their sector last Thursday.

The nationwide protests were lead by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), outside ITs at lunchtime.

President of the TUI, Gerry Quinn, said that cutbacks to third level education have been hugely damaging.  “The situation is at crisis level”, he said.

TUI members will be balloted in the coming weeks on engagement in a campaign of industrial action up to and including strike action, to secure changes on key issues.

“Lecturers in Institutes of Technology see first-hand the damage that an era of austerity cuts has wreaked on the education system and the quality of experience for students,” he said.

The union says that between 2008 and 2015 the number of students in ITs rose by 32 per cent while the number of lecturers in ITs fell by almost 10 per cent in the same period.

Mr Quinn said the disproportionate levels of staffing are causing an “unfair and unsustainable” workload.  He said that academic staff are under high levels of stress and income poverty due to insecure employment.

Another key issue cited is the cuts to student services.  Students are in larger classes with decreased access to facilities such as laboratories and tutorials.

The union have appealed to the Department of Education and Skills to address these areas of concern “as a matter of urgency.”

If a strike were to take place, the TUI said measures would be taken to avoid disrupting students’ exams.

Second level teachers will also be balloted but a time is yet to be confirmed.

Aoife Geary

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