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Unison adds voice to fury at IfL fee increase

FE news | Published in TES Newspaper on 25 March, 2011 | By: Stephen Exley

One rule for pay, another for fees, claims Prentis

The union that represents low-paid college support staff has weighed into the row over the Institute for Learning’s (IfL) fee hike, claiming that its members are being unfairly treated.

Public sector union Unison has reacted angrily to news that its members face the increase from £30 to £68 a year, following the recent backlash from lecturers about it.

Learning support staff who voluntarily joined the IfL when it was free are now receiving letters asking them to pay the increased cost, but their unions are calling for clarification on which FE staff need to join.

Among the college staff who have been asked to pay up are childcare assessors, who earn £13,000 a year on average, NVQ assessors (who earn £13,500), learner progress coaches (on £14,500) and art technicians (£16,000).

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “It seems there is utter confusion about who is actually required under the regulations to be a member of the IfL.

“Our members are told by colleges that they cannot be classed as teachers yet, but when it comes to IfL membership fees, they are told that what they actually do is teaching - there is no distinction between teaching and less well paid associate roles when it comes to IfL fee rates.

“The whole system is a mess. The only sensible thing for the Government to do is to suspend the requirement to register with IfL while they get round the table with the unions and employers to review the regulations and the statutory requirement to join IfL.”

According to FE regulations agreed in 2007, providers with Skills Funding Agency (SFA) contracts are bound to employ IfL members in “full or associate teaching and training roles”.

Qualified teacher learning and skills and associate teacher learning and skills statuses also depend on IfL membership.

Last week, FE Focus revealed that the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) had decided to boycott the IfL. Staff at the major adult education provider were told that the legal requirement had been “suspended” due to fears that it could lose a “significant” number of employees.

WEA general secretary Richard Bolsin said: “Our tutors have raised this with us in greater numbers than they have ever raised anything before.”

The University and College Union’s petition against the fee increase has been signed by 17,000 people, and members have been advised not to pay.

The union is to hold a ballot over boycotting the IfL membership fee in April, if colleges do not agree to foot the bill for their employees.

The increase has been criticised by lecturers who have questioned what benefits they receive from IfL membership.

The institute says the fee increase will cover the cost of collecting cash from members instead of receiving a block grant from the Government.

IfL chief executive Toni Fazaeli said: “It is crystal clear in the Government’s regulations that the requirement to be a member of IfL is for those in full or associate teaching roles, including teaching, training or assessor roles. The government subsidy for IfL membership has been for those covered by the regulations and the reflection of these in the SFA funded providers.

He continued: “Individuals that were not in a teaching, training or assessor role should have paid the IfL membership fee themselves in previous years, or their employer may have chosen to do this on their behalf. If support staff were members of IfL last year, they will have received a letter in early February about renewing their membership.”

Stephen Jones, page 6.

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Comment (12)

  • Toni Fazaeli needs to read the regulations more carefully! What is crystal clear is that there is no requirement to be a member of the IfL only to register with them. It is the IfL which has chosen to call registration membership but that is not what the regulations say!

    IfL please read them again and then justify how in law registration is the same as membership.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    25 March, 2011


  • Did learning support staff really join the IfL voluntarily, or were they dragooned like the rest of us? After all,the IfL was a poor bargain when it was free, involving one in endless harassment over CPD.

    The whole thing is indeed a mess, but instead of wasting time in round table disucssions, the govt. would do better to remove the compulsory element from IfL membership, let the beastly organisation die a natural death, and pass on to more important issues.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    25 March, 2011


  • PS. Am I to understand that the well-over-100% fee increase was introduced MERELY IN ORDER TO COVER THE COST OF COLLECTING THE INCREASED FEE? What sort of lunatic asylum IS IfL?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    25 March, 2011


  • Dave Prentis is right to call for suspension of the regulations and a review of compulsory membership - with a view to ending the compulsion. If IfL is as good as it claims, it should support voluntary membership, confident in the knowledge that people will flock to join.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    25 March, 2011


  • You have hit the nail on the head. The IfL know that even if membership was voluntary people are not prepared to pay. Most people agree that the IfL was not value when it was free. IT WILL NOT BE VALUE FOR MONEY IF WE PAY.
    It needs to be scrapped, my teaching has not improved because of the Ifl membership I have ( until April). My ability as a tutor is judged by my students, OFSTED and by my employer.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    25 March, 2011

    janis oliver

  • I am totally opposed to the whole structure of the IFL. I was forced to join as my employer (FE College) informed me I must, I was not concerned when the fee was free, but I did object to the IFL claiming thousands of qualified members just like me as must be an example of how important the IFL must be in education – What waffle !

    No checks were made on the qualifications I quoted, no cpc checks were made, I could have been Jack the Ripper and I would have been accepted for membership if I quoted the right qualifications.

    The IFL is just a tax on a job for an FE Lecturer or a worker in FE, it is disgusting, I don’t want to be any part of this Quango, but it appears I must. This smacks of a closed shop to me and I though they were outlawed years ago ???

    Take a look below at what the IFL are paying their staff, and you can draw the obvious conclusion why they want our hard earned money – Below is the reply to an email I sent to the IFL requesting details of what they pay their staff – I’m now going to try and find out what the Chief Executive gets paid

    Dear Mr Hodgson

    Thank you for your email that has been passed to me for a response. Please accept my apologies for the delay in coming back to you.

    The total salaries of IfL staff are £1,445,954 including Employers NI & Pension Contributions.

    This represents 23.5% of Income (excl bank interest - £6,162,193) and 25.5% of Expenditure (£5,674,184)
    Lucy Pollard
    Membership Manager
    0844 815 3202
    Institute for Learning

    Let's all try and find what their Chief Executive and Senior Managers get paid ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    28 March, 2011


  • Check out the following Link

    Here you will find the salary paid to the top earners of the IFL
    Higher Paid Staff Salaries in the Financial Year ended 31 March 2010

    The number of employees whose emoluments for the year fell within each band

    1 x £60,000 to £70,000

    2 x £70,000 to £80,000

    1 x £80,000 to £90,000

    1 x £120,000 to £130,000

    I'm trying to find what the directors got paid in salary and expenses too, no wonder they want our £68.00 talk about ali-baba and the 40 !!!!!!! Phew I think I should try and get a job as an IFL top executive rather than teaching my students

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    28 March, 2011


  • The principle here is very simple. We are having an expense imposed on us with a direct threat of loosing our jobs and career if we don’t make this payment. Value for money, when it should be paid and how long our membership lasts or even the cost are all irrelevant. We all work to live. You may have a true vocational calling or perhaps you wandered aimlessly and found yourself where you are today quite by accident. The point is this: - we did not ask for this and we certainly should not have our jobs and incomes jeopardised by any organisation. The moment you pay even 1 penny to IFL then you accept in principle the need to pay for your right to educate others. Hold your nerve and don’t pay this fee.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    31 March, 2011


  • April fools' day, when some folks pay the IfL. I hope and pray that there are not many such folks about.

    I gather the deadline has now been extended to 1 May. Mayday.

    Mayday indeed!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    1 April, 2011


  • I was interested to note that IfL represent themselves on Facebook as a "Not for Profit" organisation.

    This is surely opposite to the reasons they put forward for the increase in fees.

    As to the rest - I agree and support the comments made above by other

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    7 April, 2011


  • Since being required to register with IfL I have had an ongoing struggle to get them to recognise me as anything other than afiliate, even though I have a degree in my subject and the teaching qualification I was required to get for my job. I have been teaching for 15 years. My teaching qualification was not on their list. The matter is still not resolved.

    Will I be renewing my subscription at the over-inflated, non value for money new rate this year? I think not. What have THEY ever done for me?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    8 April, 2011


  • UCU and UNISON represent the best interests of those working in Further Education yet legislation dictates that they cannot force individuals to join.

    Why then am I legally required to join the IfL's 'closed shop' ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    8 April, 2011


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