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UCU response to higher education green paper

6 November 2015

Commenting on the release of the green paper on higher education, UCU said the government needed to clearly set out how its plans would improve the student experience.

The union said plans for a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) had to consist of more than just a series of measures to rank teaching, and that a proper appraisal of university teaching was required.

UCU also said the government should step back from plans to allow more for-profit companies easier access to the higher education sector, particularly after scandals surrounding quality of courses and the misappropriation of taxpayers' money.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Everybody agrees that teaching, alongside high quality research, should be at the heart of higher education. Our high standards are one of the reasons so many overseas students continue to choose to study here. 

'We have concerns about exactly what measures would be used in any TEF. Simply finding a few measures to rank teaching will do nothing to improve quality and we fear that manipulation of statistics may be the name of the game, rather than bolstering the student experience.

'Quality teaching is underpinned by decent working conditions for staff and a good place to start to improve teaching would be to tackle the widespread job insecurity that blights the university sector. Good teaching also needs to be properly recognised in academic career structures.

'The time has come to ensure that the staff voice is heard on the bodies that will shape how quality and the student experience is monitored and improved. One of the easiest ways the government could improve academic quality and standards is to restrict, rather than increase, the role of for-profit, private providers.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015