LECTURERS at Forth Valley College are likely to go on strike over recently introduced instructor assessor posts.

Members of the EIS union are currently balloting for industrial action, which could go ahead early next month.

The college explained the new role of instructor assessor was being introduced to align with its vocational delivery model.

"Discontent and concern" among staff over the proposals was highlighted in April when MSP Angus MacDonald questioned college principal Dr Ken Thomson over the issue – as reported in the Advertiser at the time.

Lecturers are concerned the move undermines professional standards as those entering the new role will have no requirement to gain a teaching qualification.

The college said training will be provided for those who do not have the relevant qualifications.

Anne-Marie Harley, EIS Forth Valley College branch convener, said: "Our members are not prepared to tolerate the undervaluing of lecturers by Forth Valley College management.

"We're all experienced and qualified professionals, working hard for our students and our employer should recognise that.

"Lecturers have a requirement to get teaching qualifications and will be professionally registered at the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

"It's simply wrong for the college to force lecturers to become lower paid support staff while delivering more teaching."

The branch convener highlighted that an earlier ballot, which came as lockdown hit the country, already found that the majority of union members are in favour of industrial action.

However, they decided not to disadvantage students at a difficult time and asked management not to press ahead with the instructor assessor proposals.

Dr Ken Thomson, college principal, said: "The action by EIS is hugely disappointing and I want to be clear that any future strike action will have major implications for the college and our students.

"This attack on learners by the EIS following a difficult period in education, is not something that Forth Valley College can endorse or accept as reasonable."

He added: "Now more than ever, is the time for all staff to come together in a collective effort, to support each other, our students, our local communities and the economic recovery."

However, Ms Harley told the Advertiser: "We absolutely agree, at this time we should be pulling together.

"The point that I would strongly like to make is that's why we called off industrial action in March and said: 'could you call off your action and we'll work together?' They refused.

"It's not a position that we wanted to be in either."

She also added it is not the EIS union calling on lecturers to strike – it is a member-led organisation where people voted for industrial action.

Dr Thomson made clear the role has now been established.

"There is no going back and we must move on," he added.

Lecturers in affected posts were offered employment in the new role, with current salary conserved for four years, with some accepting voluntary severance.

The ballot for industrial action will run until October 22.