x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Teachers resign over college shake-ups

Three teachers at Fujairah's HCT have resigned and others continue to complain about working conditions as a result of newly merged foundation programmes.

ABU DHABI // Three teachers have resigned and others continue to complain about working conditions as a result of newly merged foundation programmes. In late May, at least 20 of 270 UAE University teachers in Al Ain were told that their jobs would be moved as a result of the merging of programmes at UAE University (UAEU) and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).

Some were asked to move to HCT campuses in the remote area of Madinat Zayed in the Western Region and Ras al Khaimah, but most jobs were moved to Fujairah. Only five teachers volunteered to make the move there. As for the remaining 15, those who refused to transfer risked dismissal and being held to a required three-month notice period. Their employment options outside UAEU were limited, as federal universities in the country have a non-poaching agreement. The teachers at Fujairah's HCT claim the bigger workloads and longer hours have them working nine hours a day - previously they were working six - with no extra pay to compensate. "We were told we are lucky to have jobs, lucky to be up here, but we don't feel lucky," one teacher said. Prof Rory Hume, the provost at UAEU, previously explained that the programmes were being merged to help students stay closer to their homes. The teachers were given a Dh7,200 relocation incentive, to be paid in two instalments next year, and an additional Dh12,000 this month to cover other move-related costs. Dr Mark Drummond, the provost at HCT, said complaints were to be expected in the wake of such a big change. However, he hoped that the move would benefit both institutions and act as an incentive for students to reach the required level of English proficiency necessary to gain entry to the university - where classes are taught in English - while they are still in high school. "There is an expectation on the part of the students that applying to UAEU, they will go to Al Ain, but it was built for university students, not for those who have not yet qualified," Dr Drummond said. On Saturday, at the HCT's annual conference, held at Dubai Men's College, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, spoke of the goal of ultimately eliminating foundation programmes. "Another imperative strategic goal is to improve the English language competency of students who graduate from the nation's school system and eventually to remove the need for remedial programmes in our colleges and universities altogether," he said. mswan@thenational.ae