The Union of Students in Ireland is standing in solidarity with the Teachers’ Union of Ireland who are taking industrial action on February 3rd and striking because of underfunding in the sector. USI said that underfunding ITs and understaffing classes will have a negative effect on students.
Institutes of technology will face the threat of ongoing disruption as a result of industrial action by academic staff concerned over cuts to third-level funding and staffing numbers.
“Understaffed classes and underfunded Institutes of Technology mean a poorer standard of teaching and in turn a poorer standard of learning.” Kevin Donoghue, USI President, said, “USI stands in solidarity with TUI in their strike and are hoping for a positive outcome to the action. The rapid rises in student numbers combined with the cuts in lecturer numbers, as well as the unstable employment contracts for many lecturers have forced the TUI to take action.”
Members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland – which represents 4,000 lecturers and researchers – are due to stage a one-day strike on Wednesday, February 3rd, as part of a campaign to highlight underfunding of the sector. Last December, the union’s third-level members 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.
Annette Dolan, the TUI’s deputy general secretary, said the sector had been battered by an era of anti-educational cutbacks. Funding has been cut by 35 per cent between 2008 and 2015. During this time, student numbers had risen by some 32 per cent. Lecturer numbers, meanwhile, fell by almost 10 per cent over the same period.
“This has had a direct effect on the quality of service to students and the working conditions of academics,” Annette Dolan said.”Students now face larger class sizes, reduced access to laboratories and libraries and sharp cuts to tutorials and other student supports.”
USI is also stressing that the cuts to support services means more vulnerable students are at a higher risk of dropping out of college.