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University of West Scotland, Funding Settlement Details

March 4, 2011

Universities Funding Settlement and the implications for UWS

Colleagues

At a recent informal meeting between Principal and the Trade Unions, to update them on the Higher Education funding settlement and the implications for UWS,  it was agreed to create an intranet-based question and answer forum on the Higher Education funding situation.

Responses to the questions raised by the Trade Unions are given on this site at  http://www.staff.uws.ac.uk/UEG/questions.asp

and the facility has been added for colleagues to submit additional questions anonymously on funding or any related issues or concerns. We will provide replies as quickly as possible.

I hope that colleagues will find this site a useful means of keeping up to date with University developments and decisions in the current economic climate in HE and would welcome any comments or suggestions about any further information you might find useful.

Gill Troup

Gill Troup

Depute Principal

University of the West of Scotland

Paisley Campus

Paisley PA1 2BE

Tel   : 0141 848 3100

Mob: 07515 188364

web: http://www.uws.ac.uk

 

Q & A Section

The Principal recently met informally with the Trade Unions to update them on the HE funding settlement and the implications for UWS. At the meeting it was agreed to establish a question and answer forum on the Higher Education funding situation on the University intranet using the questions raised by the Trade Unions as a starting point and adding to it as further queries were posted. This site provides answers to questions received to date and provides a facility for colleagues to ask additional questions on funding or any related issues or concerns.

 

Overview

Colleagues will be aware, from other communications that the recent funding settlement from the Scottish Funding Council will lead to UWS seeing a £4.8million reduction in cash terms from our recurrent teaching grant.

There will be an even bigger percentage reduction in relation to capital funding for 2011/2012. The reductions in recurrent funding are heightened by other new costs. These include an increase of 1% in employer’s National Insurance Contributions; an increase of just over 1% in employer’s contributions to the Strathclyde Pension Scheme, plus salary increments and general inflation increases. Overall, unavoidable recurrent cost increases will amount to an estimated £2million. In relation to the capital funding the University will lose £1million, a reduction in last year’s amount which was itself significantly reduced from the previous year’s. This is in a context of the University working hard to improve its capital infrastructure and provide a modern learning environment which is fit for purpose.

Our most recent application figures for the University have increased compared with this time last year by approximately 33%. This is good news but a big challenge in terms of maintaining the balance between part-time and full-time students, articulation with colleges, attracting EU students and not overshooting on student numbers. It is also the case that increases in full-time numbers would be building on last year’s increase in full-time numbers making it even more difficult to manage. There is a real danger of claw back if there is over-recruitment.

Although the University was aware that there would be cuts in funding, the reduction has been greater than anticipated. Fortunately, the University has managed its finances well and we are in a comparatively healthy financial position. So, the University will manage, but not without difficulty. The situation, in 2012/2013, if the reductions are maintained is more worrying and would be very difficult to manage.

 

·         Response to post-election outcomes

EIS believes that Higher Education should be publicly funded by the Scottish Government. However, after the elections the EIS anticipates that any new Executive will seek to implement specific policy decisions.

We seek the University’s view of the likely outcomes and proposals for responding to, and engaging with, any and all of the above in the post-election outcome.

A) The University Court at its meeting in December affirmed the University’s formal position on the funding of higher education. The University believes that Scotland must ensure sufficient investment of public funding in higher education to secure Scotland’s economic, social and cultural future. However, the University recognises that in the current public sector fiscal environment public investment will need to be supplemented, probably by some form of graduate contribution. Whatever that is, it should be related to ability to pay and not further disadvantage learners who as a consequence of their social, financial or other circumstances are less likely to be able to benefit from University learning.

Through its external activities, UWS is actively engaged in influencing decision-makers in relation to the benefits of higher education generally and policy options in relation to the funding of universities in Scotland. The University hosted one of the Scottish Government’s consultation events on the HE Green Paper in January and has run an all-staff workshop to consult on the response we will submit. The Principal led Universities Scotland’s negotiations with the Scottish Government which has resulted in some protection for universities in the 2011/12 funding settlement. Importantly for UWS, this includes protection of funding earmarked for part-time provision and widening participation. Senior managers are also meeting with representatives of all political parties in Scotland prior to the finalisation of party manifestos before the May Scottish elections. The University has regular engagement with members of the Scottish Cabinet and senior civil servants, as well as local constituency and list MSPs, councillors and senior local government officials.

 

·         Future commitment of UWS to wider access to HE

We seek a commitment to and outline of the likely future commitment of UWS to wider access to HE.

A) The University Court at its meeting in June 2010 reaffirmed the University’s Strategic Plan 2008-15. The first sentence of the plan, in the Principal’s introduction states “The new University of the West of Scotland aims to be an innovative provider of accessible higher education across the West of Scotland, an inspiring place to study and a rewarding place to work.” and the University will not step back from this critical commitment which is essential in achieving our regional mission. The recent guidance from the Education Secretary of the Scottish Government to the Scottish Funding Council recognises the importance of universities maintaining this commitment, and the challenges in the current funding environment, and, encouragingly, UWS has received increases in its Widening Access and Retention, part-time, and college links funding in recent months.

 

·         SFC review into teaching funding subject price groups

The SFC began a review into teaching funding subject price groups for higher education institutions in 2009 – i.e. how much the SFC paid an HEI to teach one year of different undergraduate degrees and PGCE. This review, including the SFC’s proposals, is currently on hold. Are there indications of an outcome? Which subject-areas does this university regard as attractive to retain/develop and run? Which current subject-areas does this university regard as unattractive to retain/develop and run? Which units of resource will be cut in UWS over the next one/three/five years?

The review of teaching funding subject prices has been paused by the Scottish Funding Council following considerable discussion with Universities Scotland.  The Funding Council recognises that in the current economic situation, creating further uncertainty or destabilising universities in the short-term when there might be significant additional financial reductions in some universities is not appropriate. There are currently no plans to re-open this work and what happens in future will be determined by the Government following the election in May, informed by responses to the consultation which is currently underway through the Green Paper on funding Higher Education

Internally, the University’s portfolio review process is on-going, currently through module review being undertaken by Subject Development Groups and Schools. Any proposals for changes in programmes have to be considered by the Portfolio Oversight Group which makes recommendations to Senate. Such consideration takes into account a range of factors in determining the success or otherwise of programmes which include attractiveness to students, academic criteria such as progression and completion rates but also, importantly, the relevance of programmes in support of the economic, social, cultural and skills needs of the regions we serve.

In some areas where there are controlled numbers of funded places the University, in common with others, is having to reduce provision. This is currently affecting Education and Nursing, in consultation with the staff affected by the reductions.

 

·         Removal of caps on numbers for Scottish HEIs

Do you foresee a removal of caps on numbers for Scottish HEIs? Can you outline how you see this would affect European student recruitment?

A) Without a change to the system for student financial support, it is hard to see how it would be affordable for the Scottish Government to lift the current cap on student numbers. Every additional full-time student in the system as it is currently funded does not just cost the taxpayer the fees which are paid to the institutions but also the financial support through grants and loans which students receive.

If the Scottish Government does not lift the cap on funded student numbers then EU recruitment will have to take place within the context of those caps as EU students are counted within our agreed SFC student numbers.

The University is establishing strategic targets that define the spread of our student population – including international (full-fee) and EU numbers.

 

·         HESA Figures for UWS

2009/10
UWS HESA Student Record Headcount

Domicile Region

Full-time

Part-time

Grand Total

Rest of World

442

53

495

European Union

629

174

803

Rest of UK

133

110

243

Scotland

8538

7429

15967

Grand Total

9742

7766

17508

2008/09
UWS HESA Student Record Headcount

Domicile Region

Full-time

Part-time

Grand Total

Rest of World

493

86

579

European Union

531

82

613

UK – other

115

199

314

Scotland

8043

8796

16839

Grand Total

9182

9163

18345

UWS Change 08/09 to 09/10

Domicile

Full-Time

Part-Time

Grand Total

Rest of World

-51

-33

-84

European Union

98

92

190

UK – other

18

-89

-71

Scotland

495

-1367

-872

Grand Total

560

-1397

-837

UWS % Change 08/09 to 09/10

Domicile

Full-Time

Part-Time

Grand Total

Rest of World

-10.34%

-38.37%

-14.51%

European Union

18.46%

112.20%

31.00%

UK – other

15.65%

-44.72%

-22.61%

Scotland

6.15%

-15.54%

-5.18%

Grand Total

6.10%

-15.25%

-4.56%

HESA figures show that the number of Scottish students enrolled at Scottish Universities last year rose by 3%. This must be compared to the 17% increase in EU students and 5% increase in non-EU students.  UWS will have its own figures.  Can you supply those figures?

 

·         ERASMUS, European student recruitment and collaboration with European partners

Can you outline the UWS response to this situation, and how it will affect ERASMUS staff and students, European student recruitment and collaboration with European partners? Is recruitment from Europe being de-prioritised? Can you provide supporting evidence that it is not?

A) UWS currently has three high-level goals:

1. Grow our University and as a result our income from non-Funding Council sources
2. Internationalise in all aspects
3. Improve our services and processes and so increase efficiency

The University approved our new International Strategy in July 2009 and is currently taking forward work to develop the International Strategy Action Plan through the 2011 planning process.

Colleagues in Corporate Marketing have met with most Heads of School and other key contacts to coordinate recruitment activity in the current session and region-specific recruitment and development plans have been agreed

The University, in common with most universities in the UK, has seen a significant increase in non-UK European students who wish to study with us and there is no evidence that this demand is decreasing. The challenge for us all is that this is happening at the same time as an even bigger increase in demand from Scottish students for full-time places. At the moment (February 2011) our UCAS applications for full-time undergraduate programmes are up by 32.6% (12 817 applications at 23 February 2011, compared to 9 740 applications at 22 February 2010) on this time last year (the highest percentage increase in the Scottish sector). This is a huge success for us, but the University has a cap on the number of EU and domestic students it is funded to recruit. If we over-recruit we are fined by the Funding Council. So, the challenge for our University is to ensure the balance is right. The principle behind Erasmus is that incoming student numbers on the programme should be matched by the numbers of local students going to study in other parts of Europe. To help us to balance the numbers, we need to encourage and support our local students to spend time in other European universities. This means academic support, including provision of other European languages, information, advice and guidance and, for many students, financial support. We all have a role to help this to happen so we can continue to welcome staff and students from around the world to our campuses. Recruitment from Europe is not being de-prioritised, however it is taking place in a different context from that of previous years, and we will have to adapt how we operate in the EU market. The investment in recruitment activity across Europe remains stable and our. Our international and EU student numbers remain at a high level.

 

· Current and planned activities to attract non-EU students

Can you outline current and planned activities to attract non-EU students? Please outline how this approach will be workable in parallel to our commitment to local access? Please also indicate other planned measures to develop other revenue streams to ensure we do not become too reliant on fees paid by non-EU students.

A) There is work going on, being led by academic and support colleagues across all areas of the University to increase our recruitment of non-EU students. This is being taken forward principally through our teaching and research links with partner institutions in countries such as China and India as well as more traditional approaches such as attendance at the international student recruitment fairs and use of agents in certain countries to help us to recruit. However, we are involved in a wide range of other international activities. For example, our School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery continues to develop its support for health care in Malawi. Through academic colleagues in the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Business School, and a former colleague from Student Link, we are developing links with a view to a possible long-term relationship with government services in Rwanda. All schools are developing their portfolios to better meet the needs of international students. The International Action Plan will shortly be completed, and will reflect the areas on which we wish to concentrate in the future.

Increasing non-EU international student recruitment will help to internationalise our University – something which is good for our students and our multicultural understanding. It also helps with funding pressures through fee income. However, the University will not, and should not, try to rely on international recruitment as a remedy and has developed a range of approaches to increasing revenues and decreasing costs to take us forward until the economic pressures ease. The University Court recently approved a paper outlining these approaches which, as can be seen, cover a wide range of initiatives we are currently taking forward, including development of our Business-to-Business activities, developing out part-time and CPD provision, and increasing research and knowledge exchange activity.

 

·         Good practice document proposed by EIS-ULA

We seek an indication of willingness to formally adopt the good practice document proposed by EIS-ULA and supplied by this branch to management and to HR.

We also seek an indication of management expectations or plans for further redundancies.

A) UWS has agreed through its Joint Consultative Committee that, as part of its ongoing review of policies and procedures, it will consider the proposals contained within the EIS-ULA document when reviewing the Organisational Change Policy which already reflects good practice.

The University aims to avoid compulsory redundancy if at all possible. The current position is that with the exception of departments where restructuring is underway and consultation with colleagues has been undertaken there are no plans for compulsory redundancy. However, the University is not in a position to make an open-ended commitment to no redundancies with the current uncertainty about future funding for universities in Scotland. The University commits to ensuring open and transparent communication with colleagues about the possible impact of the financial situation and, to this end, has set up this site to help to ensure that all staff have access to current information about the University’s plans.

 

· Shared services for administrative and bureaucratic functions

There is a clear move towards more shared services for administrative and bureaucratic functions, both within UWS and with other HEIs.

There has been an ongoing concern in EIS that support services have been compromised and run down, in turn creating a climate of discontent that could lead to further cuts and potential outsourcing. We ask can you provide reassurances that this is not, and will not be, the case? What guarantees can be offered that cuts in administrative support will not penalise academics by passing additional administrative work onto academic workloads?

A) There is apparent tension between increasing our efficiency and reducing costs whilst protecting administrative jobs and ensuring academic staff do not have to substitute their time to take on administrative roles. It is important to recognise, however, that many aspects of academic administration undertaken by teaching staff are an essential part of any university’s frameworks for protecting academic standards and ensuring enhancement. Many of these processes are, in fact, external requirements on us from bodies such as the Quality Assurance Agency – Subject Review would be such an example. However, the solution to this is through the University ensuring that its systems and processes are as effective and efficient as possible and so do not waste valuable staff time. We also need to ensure that we are doing the right things and not undertaking unnecessary activities. There are several initiatives across the University which aim to improve our efficiency – these include the Lean programme of projects which are being led in different departments by local staff; our review of approaches to academic quality which will report following the ELIR review visit over the next two months; and the review of our catering provision. In addition, the Banner information system development programme will make a significant difference over the next 18 months to administrative tasks such as student enrolment and recording of assessment marks which will benefit students and staff. These reviews are designed to improve the quality of our services and, as a consequence, reduce unnecessary duplication and waste. In the current circumstances the University is unable to make guarantees about no job losses but we will work hard to ensure that alternative options are fully explored with staff with a view to avoiding compulsory redundancy.

 

·         Class sizes, contact time and redundant posts

EIS seeks reassurances on the following:

a) Staff will not be bullied to take on classes that are too large.
b) Staff will not be bullied to unduly reduce contact time.
c) Work linked with redundant posts that has not ceased will not be redistributed to staff on top of full workloads.
d) Appropriate time and support will be available for training for any new roles or areas of work for staff.
e) The agreed activity planning process will be used to investigate and agree any proposals for new work.

A) UWS maintains its commitment to treat all staff in accordance with the University’s Dignity and Respect Policy. Bullying of any colleague will not be tolerated. In the current economic climate, which causes uncertainty and potential anxiety for employees across publicly funded services, it is even more important for the University when it takes forward necessary changes to appreciate the potentially emotive context of discussions with colleagues and continue to adhere to the principles underpinning the Dignity and Respect Policy and also those of the Organisational Change Policy.

Class size and contact time are important aspects of the student experience at UWS, but are not the only ones which affect student experience and performance. The development of the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy and related work on service excellence will ensure that the University’s strategic commitment to enhancing the experience of our students is informed by best practice in learning and teaching and student feedback.

The University’s approach to activity planning should ensure that no colleague is asked to take on a workload that would lead to that individual having to work in excess of their contracted hours on an extended and regular basis.

The PDP process is designed to ensure that all colleagues are appropriately supported when taking on new roles and responsibilities.

 

·         Senior staff’s pay

There needs to be greater transparency for senior staff pay within Scottish HEIs. EIS is also mindful of the perks, expenses, emoluments, performance bonuses and additional pension payments made to some senior staff in some HEIs. We believe that there should be greater transparency and careful use of these, and that all the information should be published by the HEIs.

Will you commit to open and contemporaneous publication of the above information? Furthermore, will CMT commit to forgo or donate to a students’ fund any increase (including bonuses) in UWS income from the past year and for the next five that exceeds the increase in rate of pay (current offer to staff is 0.4%), as a sign of goodwill and commitment to UWS at a time of financial hardship for the university.

A) The pay scales for Professorial and other senior staff are available on the University’s HR website. The salaries of senior University staff, including the Principal’s, are also published in the University’s Annual Accounts. University staff salaries operate on the same basis in relation to cost of living rises and senior staff will receive the same 0.4% pay increase in their February salaries as everyone else across the University. The University introduced a new Recognition and Reward scheme last year which, for the first time, allows all staff, irrespective of grade or role, access to performance-related reward as well as a range of other recognition schemes. The University believes that Professorial staff and senior academic and management staff should have some link in their salaries to performance, as with everyone else in the University. Arrangements for Professorial staff are under development. In 2010/11, following the completion of the annual performance review process, 14 staff received accelerated increments, and 37 received non-consolidated payments, of whom 27 were senior staff. In addition, 6 colleagues have received awards under the local recognition scheme. The University is intending to launch a development campaign to establish a student fund over the next few months and all colleagues, including senior staff, will be encouraged to support that fund either through donations or contribution in kind to fundraising efforts.

Unlike staff on the 51 point scale, members of the Professoriate and the Corporate Management Team do not automatically receive increments to progress through salary scales.

Senior staff at UWS are subject to the same arrangements for expenses as all other staff. They do not receive additional in-service pension payments and have access to the same initiatives, such as car-parking and the cycle to work scheme as all UWS staff.

NUMBER OF HIGHER PAID STAFF EXC. PRINCIPAL AT FEB 2011

Salary

Of whom
CMT

Salary

Of whom
CMT

£40k- £50k

369

£80k – £90k

2

2

£50k- £60k

108

9

£90k – £100k

2

2

£60k – £70k

25

8

£100k – £110k

0

0

£70k – £80k

13

7

£110k – £120k

2

2

·         UCU Ballot and Potential Industrial Action

* What is the University’s position on the ongoing UCU ballot and potential industrial action

A) The University & College Union (UCU) is in the process of balloting members on a proposal to take industrial action over job protection and pay.

Although UWS has a relatively small number of UCU members, job security issues are a serious concern for us all. Decisions on staffing and workforce change are matters that are discussed with staff representatives through the Joint Consultative Committee and progressed following policies and procedures developed and applied in consultation with our recognised trade unions.

As colleagues are aware that, higher education is facing enormous financial challenges and we will continue to work with our trade union colleagues in seeking to achieve the financial sustainability of UWS. The 2010/11 pay award is considered the maximum affordable in the current financial climate and the settlement has been paid and backdated in spite of the worsening funding environment.

It is our belief that industrial action in this climate will be damaging for students, the University and the sector.

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