Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 29 June 2011

Venue: The Linen Room, Lisburn Campus, South Eastern Regional College of Further Education

The meeting opened in public session at 10.16 am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Chair’s Business

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

The Committee considered a draft press release on its meeting and the preceding breakfast event at the Lisburn campus of the South Eastern Regional College.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that this press release should be issued.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2011

Agreed: The minutes were agreed.

4. Matters arising

The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister, and also from a former employee, regarding issues in the North West Regional College.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister requesting further information on the situation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would hold an additional meeting during the summer recess if the Chairperson considered that it was necessary.

The Committee considered correspondence on the proposed closure of the Queen’s Bookshop.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to Queen’s University, Belfast, for comment.

5. Departmental briefing on the responses to the Consultation on Student Fees and Finance.

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 10.40 am.

Mr Andrew Hamilton, Deputy Secretary, Mr Fergus Devitt, Director of Higher Education, and Ms Claire Thompson, Higher Education Student Finance - Future Policy, briefed the Committee on the responses received by the Department to its recent public consultation on Student fees and Finance. The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the Hansard transcript of the session to the Department as the Committee’s response to the consultation.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 11.00 am.

6. Annual reports of the Further Education Colleges

The Committee noted the Annual Report for the year ended 31 July 2009 for Belfast Metropolitan College and the Annual Reports for the year ended 31 July 2010 for the other five Colleges of Further Education, together with a Research paper which highlighted points of interest for the Committee.

7. Briefing from Colleges Northern Ireland, on current issues

Representatives from Colleges Northern Ireland joined the meeting at 11.02 am.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Bertie Faulkner, Chairperson, Mr Trevor Neilands, Deputy Chairperson, Mr Tom Place, Acting Chief Executive, and Mr Ned Cohen, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, on the current issues facing the Further Education Colleges.

11.29 am Mr Pat Ramsey left the meeting.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to Colleges Northern Ireland to request further information on a number of the issues discussed.

11.52 am Mr Barry McElduff left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to liaise with Colleges Northern Ireland to plan an event in the Autumn.

The representatives left the meeting at 12.02 pm.

12.02 pm Mr David McIlveen left the meeting.

12.02 pm Mr Alastair Ross left the meeting.

12.03 pm The meeting was suspended.

12.14 pm The meeting opened again in public session.

12.14pm Mr Barry McElduff rejoined the meeting.

8. Briefing from the Department on Widening Participation in Higher Education.

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 12.14 pm.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Andrew Hamilton, Deputy Secretary, Mr Fergus Devitt, Director of Higher Education, and Mr Kieran Mannion, Head of Higher Education Widening Participation Branch, on the responses received to the public consultation on Widening Participation in Higher Education. The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request further information on the implications of poor rural broadband coverage for access to Higher Education.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the Hansard transcript of the session to the Department as the Committee’s response to the consultation.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 12.31 pm.

9. Subordinate Legislation

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 12.32pm.

  • The Agency Workers Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

The Committee was briefed by Mr Tom Evans and Mr Conor Brady, Employment Relations Policy and Regulation Branch, on the policy content of this SL1proposal.

Agreed: The Committee was content for the Department to proceed to make this Rule.

  • The Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (General) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

The Committee was briefed by Mr Tom Evans, Employment Relations Policy and Regulation Branch, on the policy content of this SL1proposal.

Agreed: The Committee was content for the Department to proceed to make this Rule.

  • The Further Education (Student Support) (Eligibility) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

The Committee was briefed by Ms Yvonne Croskery, Further Education Policy Branch, on the policy content of this SL1proposal.

Agreed: The Committee was content for the Department to proceed to make this Rule.

Departmental officials left the meeting at 12.48 pm.

10. Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • A response from the Department to a Committee request for information on Further Education drop-out rates.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • An Investing Activity Report on the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland.

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

  • Correspondence from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a meeting after the summer recess.

  • Preparing for Success – Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance Strategy - Implementation Report March 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the report and schedule a briefing on the Forward Work Programme.

  • A letter from Ms Kay Goodall of the University of Stirling in support of maintaining funding for Queen’s University, Belfast.

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

  • One example of a number of letters from employees of Queen’s University, Belfast, protesting about proposed cuts in Higher Education funding.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note and acknowledge all the letters.

  • A letter from Mr Maurice Lee on the impact of Higher Education funding cuts.

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

  • Correspondence from the Department on the re-contacting of Steps to Work in Area 2 (Foyle), Area 8 (Antrim) and Area10 (South and East Belfast).

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department seeking an update on the situation.

  • Correspondence from the Chief Executive of UCAS expressing concerns that tuition fees for the 2012 intake in Northern Ireland have not yet been set.

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

  • A response from the University of Ulster on the cost of running a multi-campus operation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the letter.

  • A response from the Department to a Committee request for information on tracking the careers of graduates.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • The Annual Report of Ofqual for 2010/2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the Report.

  • A response from the Department to a Committee request for information on the number of inspections carried out on employment agencies and businesses, and how many have led to legal action.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • A paper from the Department on the consultation on the Pathways to Success strategy.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the paper.

  • A response from the British Medical Association to the Departmental consultation on Student Fees and Finance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • A response from the University of Ulster to a Committee request for information on the number of higher education places per head of the population in Northern Ireland in comparison with other regions of the UK.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • A letter from the CBI requesting that the Committee look into the current Industrial Tribunals system.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

  • A response from the Department to a Committee request for information on whether teachers recruited through an agency rather than through the General Register would be covered by the provisions of the Agency Workers Directive.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

The Committee also noted a number of invitations received.

11. Draft Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the draft Forward Work Programme for September and October 2011.

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

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a meeting with staff representatives of Stranmillis University College after the recess.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department on the calculation of the MaSN cap on student numbers.

12. Any Other Business

There was no other business.

13. Date, time and place of next meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the date of the next meeting should be determined at the discretion of the Chairperson.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.59 pm

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

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