Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Venue: Old Staff Common Room, Queen's University, Belfast

The meeting opened in public session at 9.35 a.m.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson updated members with details of his attendance at various events and meetings on behalf of the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek information from the Department on the funding of a training organisation.

Mr Sammy Douglas joined the meeting at 9.43a.m.

The Committee discussed various proposals for study visits.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would advise the Committee staff of their preferences.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2011

Agreed: The minutes were agreed.

4. Matters arising

The Committee considered a list of matters arising from the previous meeting.

5. Briefing from Departmental officials on Budget issues

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 9.50 a.m.

The Committee was given an overview of the Department’s financial position and the impact of budgetary pressures on services by Mr Andrew Hamilton, Deputy Secretary, and Mr John Smith, Director of Finance.

Mr Chris Lyttle joined the meeting at 9.54 a.m.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Ms Michelle Gildernew joined the meeting at 10.22 a.m.

Ms Michelle Gildernew left the meeting at 10.36 a.m.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department for further information on various areas of concern.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 10.57 a.m.

6. Briefing from the University of Ulster on the Confucius Institute

Representatives joined the meeting at 10.58 a.m.

The Committee was briefed by Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin, Director of Celtic Studies Research, and Dr David Barr, Head of the School of Languages, on the role of the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster. The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a visit to the Confucius Institute in the New Year.

Agreed:The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Director of the Confucius Institute when appointed.

Representatives left the meeting at 11.41 a.m.

Mr Jim Allister left the meeting at 11.41 a.m.

Mr Basil McCrea left the meeting at 11.42 a.m., and Mr Thomas Buchanan assumed the Chair.

7. Departmental briefing on the Disability Employment Service

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 11.42 a.m.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Colum Boyle, Director of Employment Service,

and Mr Terry Parke, Head of Disability Employment Service, on the work of the Service.

Basil McCrea rejoined the meeting at 11.47 a.m., and resumed the Chair.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to explore access to employment on the Stormont estate for those with disabilities.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the officials to its event on 29 November 2011 with participants from the NOW project

Departmental officials left the meeting at 12.01 p.m.

8. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered an SL1 proposal for The Student Fees (Qualifying Courses and Persons) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would defer consideration of the proposal until a future meeting.

9. Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • Figures from the Department for Employment and Learning on Apprenticeships for October 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the figures.

  • A letter from the Department for Employment and Learning in response to a query from the Committee for Social Development on Fuel Poverty.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the response to the Committee for Social Development.

  • A response from the Department for Employment and Learning to the Committee’s query on the Step Ahead 4 – 2 initiative.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • A response from the Department for Employment and Learning to the Committee’s request that it forward copies of reports concerning Parkanaur College.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note receipt of these reports.

  • A response from the Department for Employment and Learning to the Committee’s query regarding EMA.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Education to request statistics on the academic success rates of students who are in receipt of EMA and free school meals.

  • Correspondence from NUS-USI requesting the opportunity to brief the Committee on student tenancy deposits and parking facilities at BMC.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and to schedule a meeting in the Forward Work Programme..

  • Correspondence from NUS-USI outlining several issues of concern and requesting that the Committee examine these issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Department for comment.

  • A letter from Link Financial Outsourcing Ltd, in response to the Committee’s request for information on how that organisation ensures that student loan debtors are accurately identified.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • A response from the Committee for Social Development to the Committee’s request for a joint meeting to discuss the Welfare Reform Bill.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write again at a suitable date.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment requesting that a letter on Training for Success should be forwarded to the Department.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this correspondence and requested that it should be copied into any response from the Department.

  • Correspondence from Colleges NI in response to the Committee’s query on student broadband access.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

The Committee also noted a number of invitations received.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.03pm

Mr Basil McCrea
Chairperson, Committee for Employment & Learning

9 November 2011

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