Membership numbers are on the side

May 16, 1997

LESS than half of further and higher education lecturers are members of unions and redundancy, early retirement and general disillusionment all threaten further recruitment.

The latest membership figures show that around 46 per cent of higher education lecturers and perhaps 50 per cent of further education lecturers are members of unions. Out of 226,000 lecturers in both sectors, some 105,000 are union members.

* The Association of University Teachers has just over 37,000members, mainly in the old universities. This is a rise of just over14 per cent since 1992. It means that around half of the lecturersin traditional universities are AUT members. Merger with theAssociation of University and College Lecturers this year will take total joint membership to 40,000.

* There are 65,000 Natfhe members in further and higher education colleges and universities (total membership is 70,000). Some 46,000 are in further education colleges which have total teaching staff of around 100,000. Only 19,000, or two in five, of the 49,000 lecturers in new universities and higher education colleges are Natfhe members. Natfhe's total membership has dropped by 5,000 (6 per cent) since 1992.

Unions say that funding cuts have had an impact on membership. Cash-strapped institutions have laid off thousands of lecturers, many of whom were union members, while low pay, increased workloads and changes to work practice have led to hundreds more quitting.

ALAN THOMSON

(Sources: HESA, FEFC, AUT and Natfhe)

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