Wor Blog

Some Home Truths about TEF

Dr Linda Barkas (University of Sunderland), Dr Jonathan M. Scott (Northumbria University), Dr Paul Smith (University of Hull) & Nicola J. Poppitt (Teesside University)

Our recent article in the Journal of Further and Higher Education (Barkas et al., 2017) provides a critical account of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), underpinned by an overview of the policy context and other agendas exploring the rationale for implementing TEF within universities. In the paper we provide an outline of the background and context of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017; we clarify the definition of the Teaching Excellence Framework; we explore the themes underpinning the TEF; and we question the nature of the reforms and offer some concluding arguments.

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USS Pensions in the aftermath of the ballot

We should stress here, that all of the information in this blog is purely for information purposes. It does not in any way constitute advice on your decisions regarding your pension. UCU urges anybody who has any questions regarding their pension to obtain financial advice. The branch will be hosting a session on 21 February 2018 featuring a qualified advisor who can help with your decisions. Alternatively, you can contact UCU's appointed provider of financial advice, Lighthouse Financial Advice Limited. Details here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/financialadvice

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USS pensions

Although Northumbria is officially locked into the Teacher's Pension Scheme (TPS), members might be surprised to hear that some of their colleagues actually pay into a different pension provider. The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) officially covers academic staff at so-called 'pre-92' institutions; its members who join Northumbria have the option to remain with USS rather than transfer their pension to TPS. There are a number of differences between the schemes, including the percentage of their pay that members pay into the scheme, employers' contributions (both of which are very minor differences), to the pension that we can expect on retirement (which seems to be growing). This outlines a few of the changes as they stood in 2016.

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Chair’s blog # 4 of 2017 Work Intensification and workload planning, by Julia Charlton

Management want to re-negotiate our agreement on workloads, which we think helps to protect staff from overzealous managers, but it has not yet been in force for 3 years and has never been evaluated. We want data (just like they do) which proves the present agreement does not work, before we will consider a change.

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