IfL's fee hike bid undermined as survey shows lack of confidence

18th February 2011 at 00:00

A survey of union members has revealed a widespread lack of confidence in the Institute for Learning (IfL) as it tries to more than double its fees for lecturers.

The University and College Union (UCU) found nearly two-thirds of more than 900 surveyed lecturers supported the concept of a professional body, but less than 20 per cent believed the IfL was doing a good job.

The survey - carried out before the IfL announced its plan to become self- funding by charging each member pound;68 a year for the registration required by law to teach in colleges (FE Focus, 11 February) - also showed that 84 per cent were not willing to pay for its services.

One member told the survey: "While I would gladly subscribe to a professional body that developed organically by members of the profession and not in some government office, I would strongly resent having to pay anything to prop up an organisation whose only role seems to be to regulate and police us."

The UCU survey contradicts the institute's own research on members' views, which last year found that 70 per cent were "in principle" prepared to pay for professional registration. The union concedes that it and other unions constitute only 60,000 of the 200,000 registered FE teachers but says they represent an "organised minority".

The survey also revealed that more than 80 per cent of lecturers now have employment contracts requiring them to be members of the IfL, which could mean that a boycott in response to the fee hike puts jobs at risk.

IfL chief executive Toni Fazaeli said: "IfL clearly needs to trumpet much more - it is disappointing that many of the respondents seem not to be well informed about IfL's work. This small survey of some UCU members indicates pretty strong support for the concept of a professional body, and suggested roles for it, all of which IfL does indeed carry out."

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