UCET Northern Ireland
UCET(NI) began its life as an independent body - the Northern Ireland Universities' Council for Teacher Education (NIUCTE), which was established in 1998 with the following remit:
- to present a professional higher education voice on matters affecting teacher education in Northern Ireland.
- to provide a higher education consultation body to which governmental and other bodies may refer in relation to teacher education in Northern Ireland.
The membership consisted of a nominee from each of the five university sector institutions engaged in teacher education in NI:
St. Mary's University College (www.stmarys-belfast.ac.uk) Stranmillis University College (www.stran.ac.uk)
The Open University (NI) (www.open.ac.uk)
The Queen's University, Belfast (www.qub.ac.uk)
The University of Ulster (www.ulst.ac.uk)
In practice, the nominees turned out to be the heads of the institutions or, in the case of the three universities, of the teacher education units. It was agreed that the Chair should be rotated annually in a five-year cycle.
Following discussions with representatives of UCET in the summer of 1999, it was decided that NIUCTE would formally request:
- that there be a UCET(NI) along the lines of UCET (Cymru)
- that the then NIUCTE should become UCET(NI)
- that UCET(NI) should be a standing committee of UCET
- that all five HEIs in Northern Ireland who would make up the future UCET(NI) should remain, or in the case of the colleges, become individual members of UCET. This request was formally approved by UCET's Governing Council in December 1999.
UCET(NI) meets formally three times in each academic year as part of the national cycle of UCET meetings. Its chair is ex-officio a member of the UCET Executive Committee and reports to the Annual General Meeting. Minutes of UCET(NI) meetings can be accessed on the UCET website. It has sought to lobby Government, in the context of the new devolved structures established in NI in 1999, on a range of teacher education issues, including the School Improvement Programme in NI, the inspection of ITE by the NI Education and Training Inspectorate and the need to provide financial inducements to ITE students in NI in line with those available, or likely to be made available, in England in the interests of equity and fairness. Its views were also sought on the establishment of a General Teaching Council for NI, on which UCET(NI) now has representation. The Committee hosted the third in an ongoing series of UCET/HMI Symposia in Belfast in December 2001.
The Teacher Education community in Northern Ireland is looking forward to many interesting developments in the near future. A key part of the work of the Committee in respect of these developments will consist in consulting with the Department of Education, the Department for Employment and Learning and a range of other public bodies.
Chair of UCET Northern Ireland Committee