Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Venue: Room 29

The meeting opened in public session at 10.04 am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Ministerial Briefing on Tuition Fees and Student Finance Arrangements

The Committee agreed to move to Agenda item 5.

The Minister and his official joined the meeting at 10.07 am.

The Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, and the Permanent Secretary, Mr Alan Shannon, briefed the Committee on the Department’s arrangements for student tuition fees and finance.

Mr David McIlveen joined the meeting at 10.12 am.

Ms Michelle Gildernew left the meeting at 10.31 am.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister for clarification on a number of issues arising from his briefing.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to circulate a copy of the EURES Study of Obstacles to Cross-border Undergraduate Education, commissioned by the IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing on the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request information from the local Universities on the number and success rate of undergraduate applications.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing on the revised Departmental Budget.

The Minister and his official left the meeting at 11.20 am.

3. Chair’s Business

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

4. Minutes of the meeting held on 29 June 2011

Agreed: The minutes were agreed.

5. Matters arising

The Committee considered a list of matters arising from the previous meeting. The Committee also considered a Briefing Note commissioned from Assembly Research and Information Service on the Gender Pay Gap.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the North West Regional College for details of the terms of reference for the recent Review commissioned from Price Waterhouse Cooper.

6. Departmental briefing on proposed changes to Ofqual in the Westminster Education Bill 2011

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 11.25 am.

Mr Daryl Young, Programme Manager Further Education Division, Mr Adrian McMullan, Acting Head of Qualifications and E-Learning Branch, and Mr Harry McCullough, Qualifications and E-Learning Branch, briefed the Committee on the implications of proposed extension of the powers of Ofqual through the Westminster Education Bill 2011. The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the Department to proceed without a further Legislative Consent Motion.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 11.36 am.

7. Departmental briefing on the Consultation on Qualifications required to Deliver Essential Skills

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 11.37 am.

Ms Yvonne Croskery, Head of Further Education Policy Branch, and John McGuigan, Head of Essential Skills Branch, briefed the Committee on the forthcoming public consultation on the qualifications required to deliver Essential Skills.

Mr Pat Ramsey left the meeting at 12.02 pm.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing on Essential Skills.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 12.05 pm.

8. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered the following Statutory Rules:

  • SR 2011 No. 222 (C. 13) : The Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 (Commencement and Transitional Provision) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011

Agreed : The Committee agreed to note this Order.

  • SR 2011 No. 237: The Industrial Court (Membership) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

Agreed : The Committee agreed the following motion:

“That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2011 No.237, The Industrial Court (Membership) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011, and has no objection to the rule”.

  • SR 2011 No. 249: The Industrial Training Levy (Construction Industry) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011

Agreed : The Committee agreed the following motion:

“That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2011 No.249, The Industrial Training Levy (Construction Industry) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011, and has no objection to the rule”.

  • SR 2011 No. 262: The Further Education (Student Support) (Eligibility) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

Agreed : The Committee agreed the following motion:

“That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2011 No.262, The Further Education (Student Support) (Eligibility) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011, and has no objection to the rule”.

  • SR 2011 No. 277: The Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (General) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

Agreed : The Committee agreed the following motion:

“That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2011 No.277, The Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (General) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011, and recommends that it be confirmed by the Assembly”.

9. Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • Letter from the Department clarifying the university admissions criteria for school-leavers.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence, and to forward a copy to the MLA who raised this issue.

  • Letter from the Department outlining its consideration of the business case for the expansion of the Magee campus of the University of Ulster.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to note the correspondence.

  • Letter from the Department providing information on the analysis of EMA recipients.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response, pending the Departmental briefing on EMA scheduled for its next meeting.

  • Letter from the Department in response to a Committee request for an update on the timeframe for an announcement of the policy on EMA.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response, pending the Departmental briefing on EMA scheduled for its next meeting.

  • Monthly updates on Apprenticeships for the months of July, August and September 2011, provided by the Department.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the updates.

  • Letter from the Department providing further information on the closure of the Jobs and Benefits Project.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • Response from the Department to a Committee request for further information on European Lifelong Learning programmes.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment for information on Framework 7.

  • Response from the Department to a Committee request urging inter-Departmental working with DETI to obtain EU Research and Development Funding.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • Correspondence from the Department on funding for PhD Students.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this letter.

  • Update from the Department on the re-contacting of Steps to Work in Area 2 (Foyle).

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Department on rural broadband provision and the implementation of the draft Rural White Paper Action Plan.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this letter.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Universities and Colleges on the impact on students who are disadvantaged by poor broadband access.

  • A letter from the Minister on DEL engagement with the EU.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the letter.

  • A response from the Department to a Committee request for information on the role of St Mary’s University College and on the consultation with staff at Stranmillis on the proposed merger with Queen’s University Belfast.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response, pending a forthcoming briefing from St. Mary’s.

  • Correspondence from the Minister on employment issues in the North West Regional College.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • Correspondence to Pat Ramsey MLA from the Minister on employment issues in the North West Regional College, copied to the Committee for information.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the letter.

  • The Careers Service Annual Report 2010/11.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the Report.

  • A response from the Department on the Review of Arm’s Length Bodies.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • The Ministerial response to the public consultation on the Agency Workers Directive.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • Correspondence from the Minister on the retention of funding for Adult Apprenticeships pending a formal Review.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response, pending the announcement of the Review.

  • A letter from the Minister approving the plans of the Northern Regional College for the Antrim area.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Department on the Incapacity Benefit/ Income Support Re-assessment Initiative.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request an oral briefing from the Department at its next meeting.

  • Correspondence from Mr Harry Ritchie on funding cuts in Higher Education, forwarded by the Committee for Education.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note and acknowledge the correspondence.

  • Social Economy Enterprise Strategy Annual Report 2010-2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the Report.

  • Correspondence from various employees of the North West Regional College on employment relation issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Department of Education on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) places.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • Letter from Queen’s University Belfast on external consultancy work and links with universities in the Republic of Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Letter from Queen’s University Belfast on the Student Plus Directorate.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to visit Queen’s to learn more about the Student Plus Directorate.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister detailing actions arising from their European Issues event in June.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister enclosing Investment Activity Reports for the Department for Employment and Learning for July and August 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the Reports.

  • White Paper entitled ‘Perspectives for a Business Growth Policy’ from the University of Ulster Business School.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the White Paper.

  • Correspondence from a number of employees of Queen’s University Belfast on funding cuts to Higher Education.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note and acknowledge these letters.

  • Response from the Minister for Education on the position of substitute teachers and the Agency Workers Directive.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • Correspondence from CollegesNI in response to a Committee request for information arising from a briefing on 29 June 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • Correspondence from the Queen’s University Belfast on the closure of the University Bookshop.

Agreed: The Committee agreed note this correspondence.

  • Request from the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts at Queen’s University Belfast to sponsor an event at Parliament Buildings.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to sponsor this event.

  • Request from Include Youth to brief the Committee on NEETs.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule this briefing.

  • Correspondence from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People on the launch of her 2011 Participation Awards.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to encourage its participation in the Awards Scheme.

  • Request from Action on Hearing Loss to brief the Committee on its new report on lip-reading in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule this briefing.

  • Press release from CollegesNI on the appointment of its new Chief Executive.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this appointment.

  • Request from Dr Michael Ievers for an informal meeting with the Committee on the merger of Queen’s University and Stranmillis College.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule this meeting.

  • Correspondence from Queen’s University Students Union on funding cuts in Higher Education.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note and acknowledge this letter.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on departmental Efficiency Plans.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from U4D on the expansion of the Magee campus of the University of Ulster.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note and acknowledge the correspondence.

  • The Committee also noted a number of invitations received.
10. Draft Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the draft Forward Work Programme for September to December 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to schedule these briefings.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to Hadassah Medical Centre at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The meeting moved into closed session at 12.28 pm.

11. Any Other Business

There was no other business.

12. Date, time and place of next meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the next meeting should be held at 10.00 am on 21 September 2011 in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.41pm

Mr Basil McCrea
Chairperson, Committee for Employment & Learning
21 September 2011

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