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UCU declares official dispute with FE College in north Wales

Lecturers at Coleg Menai, a further education college in Bangor, north Wales, are to take industrial action to oppose a decision to increase class sizes and reduce the amount of time students spend with teaching staff.

The branch chair at Coleg Menai, Ken Hughes, said: "The college management refuses to acknowledge the adverse effect that large class sizes and cuts in teaching contact time has on students."

University and College Union (UCU) members held a ballot on 22 August to reveal 71 per cent of lecturers favoured the action. It is due to commence on 8 September if no agreement has been reached, and will initially begin with staff refusing to input data into their college computer systems.

Mr Hughes added: "The result of this ballot clearly demonstrates the growing anger and frustration of lecturers. UCU has tried hard to reach an agreement on this extremely worrying issue and remains committed to finding a settlement."

The number of ‘guided learning hours’ being provided for some course modules over the past two years has been cut from 72 to 51 hours. Additionally, student group sizes have increased to 18 from a norm of 15, and recently the college imposed a new norm of 24 students.

UCU Wales Support Official, Phil Markham, said: "We have to congratulate our members at Coleg Menai for their strength of commitment to the profession and to the quality of education for the learners at Coleg Menai. Let us now hope that the management at the college will see sense and stop this dispute escalating into a protracted and bitter battle."

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