Further Education (FE) lecturers in Scotland have voted in resounding numbers to take industrial action to oppose the replacement of lecturers with instructors and other support staff grades.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) initiated a national dispute on colleges’ plans to replace lecturers with support staff (instructors) and today’s consultative ballot result gives a clear mandate to move onto to a statutory ballot in pursuit of this dispute.
Lecturers are professional educators; graduates or qualified by extensive experience, most a with Teaching Qualification in FE (TQFE). FE lecturers have also recently begun a mandatory professional registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). Lecturers deliver 21-23 hours of teaching/training with clear planning and preparation time. Support staff (such as instructors) require no professional training or registration and operate under inferior conditions meaning that the quality of education delivered will deteriorate.
In an EIS consultative ballot with a turnout of 72% lecturers voted strongly in favour of industrial action short of strike action (93%), as well as strike action (86%).
The EIS has been seeking to resolve this dispute at national level for several months. Unfortunately, the employers’ side, Colleges Scotland, has argued that local colleges should have the right to replace lecturers in this way and they expect for it to continue. In a week when ‘The Scottish College of the Future’ Report was launched - which refers to the tertiary system, collaborative leadership and colleges acting together as part of a system - the refusal to discuss lecturers’ roles within that system seem incongruous to EIS members.
Charlie Montgomery, EIS-FELA (Further Education Lecturers’ Association) President, said: “With FE set to play an important part in Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 it is in the interests of the students and the wider community that a professional education service is maintained. We hope that Colleges Scotland will now enter into urgent talks to resolve this pressing matter.”