The future Higher Education Service Group within the union

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2017 Higher Education Service Group Conference
10 November 2016

Conference notes the increasing overlap between some of the services provided in Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE), with FE Colleges starting to deliver degree level courses.

The future of post 16 education may possibly be joined further with the creation of higher apprenticeships, which is likely to see HE and FE institutions working in partnership to deliver these. Additionally the development of ‘shared services’ arrangements between college and universities in some areas increases the areas of overlap further.

Being aware of this and previous changes to the union in organisational and branch structures, Conference further notes the content of motion 15 ‘Representation of Members within Further Education’ submitted to the 2016 National Delegate Conference by City and Islington College.

The motion stated that the interests of UNISON members working in Further Education would be better served by their inclusion within a joint service group covering post-16 education including Further Education colleges, Sixth Form colleges and Universities.

It noted the reserved powers of the National Executive Council (NEC) under rules D 3.1.2 and D 3.1.3 to determine which sections of the membership of the union fall within the scope of each Service Group of the Union, to authorise the creation of additional Service Groups or to vary the allocation of members to Service Groups, but shall do so only after consultation with the Service Group or Groups concerned.

It then called upon the NEC to

1)Launch a consultation with all relevant sections of the union, including the Local Government Service Group, Higher Education Service Group, National Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges Committee, Regional Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges Forums, and standalone or combined Further Education College branches, over how support staff in Further Education can be most effectively recruited to, represented by and organised by UNISON within the existing service group structure of the union and/or whether any changes to the composition, boundaries and name of any of the existing service groups is necessary in order to best achieve these aims;

2)Arrange a conference open to all members working in post-16 education to feed into the consultation process and to discuss issues of joint concern and interest to staff working in post-16 education;

3)Take forward as appropriate any recommendations arising from this consultation.

In the event the motion was not heard because of time constraints. However, as this was a prioritised motion, it is possible the NEC may include it in its work plan.

Conference believes it is important that the union has suitable structures and organising arrangements for members in their workplace to ensure good representation both locally and throughout the union.

Therefore, in the event that the NEC seeks to undertake the requests made in points 1 to 3 above, conference calls upon the Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) to:-

a)Seek to work with and influence the NEC to ensure that the voices of HE members are heard equally with those of FE members in any recommendations relating to possible changes under rules D 3.1.2 and D 3.1.3;

b)In undertaking point a), seek to ensure that should any proposals brought forward by the NEC do not dilute the current national and regional representational arrangements within the union.

Regardless of any steps taken or not taken by the NEC on the issues raised above, Conference also calls upon the HESGE to;

Work within the existing structures of the union, to consider options for collaboration on issues of joint concern affecting UNISON members working in Post 16 Education as a whole, this could also include the possibility of joint training events and seminars, whilst also respecting the independence of each sector and its respective bargaining arrangements.