Further education lecturers are considering leaving their job

May 31, 2002

* Two-thirds of further education lecturers are considering leaving their job or taking early retirement because they feel overworked and undervalued, a survey for Natfhe has revealed, writes Tony Tysome.

Further education lecturers demonstrated their dissatisfaction with pay and conditions by going on a two-day strike this week. An estimated 283 colleges were affected by the action, which Natfhe called to protest against a 1.5 per cent pay offer. Natfhe said the offer would do nothing to help meet lecturers' demands for the closure of a 12 per cent salary gap with schoolteachers by 2004.

Employers responded to the strike by blaming the government for putting colleges in a "financial crisis" that left them unable to offer larger pay rises and hampered their staff recruitment and retention efforts.

The survey, which was conducted by the trade union research unit at Ruskin College, Oxford, found that 84 per cent of 1,900 lecturers and managers who responded to a questionnaire thought that pay levels had an adverse effect on recruitment, while 89 per cent thought poor pay had eroded lecturers' morale.

One in ten lecturers was earning less than £10,000 a year, one in five, less than £15,000 a year and more than half, less than £25,000.

Nearly a quarter of staff who responded said they were "serious" about preparing to leave, and about 38 per cent were waiting for the opportunity to take early retirement.

With 70 per cent of the respondents in the 45 to 65-plus age band, a report on the findings warns there is a growing risk of the sector being left with a gap in its workforce.

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