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Reclaim Higher Education

14 February 2024

The ravages of marketisation have torn up the higher education sector as we know it and has created a system which is bad for students, staff, universities, and taxpayers alike.

Students are graduating with a lifetime of debt, spending on staff is at record lows, workload and job insecurity is sky high, and financial inequality across the sector is growing as institutions are forced to battle for student income.

Our sector has been placed at the centre of a divisive culture war - manifested in cuts to arts and humanities funding, surveillance of staff and a damaging instrumentalisation of education where value is measured solely in terms of graduate earnings.

It's time to reclaim higher education for the interests of staff and students. We need radical reform based on the following:

A fair funding model

  • an end to tuition fees in higher education
  • secure, long-term funding for all subjects and types of higher education institution
  • fair distribution of students across the sector
  • employers paying more to develop the supply of skilled graduates on which they rely, through a Business Education Tax.

Professional autonomy and respect for staff

  • fair and equal pay and an end to exploitative working practices
  • collaborative approaches to regulation and quality assurance
  • meaningful representation for staff on decision-making structures.

TAKE ACTION

Tell your MP: support the funding of Teachers' Pensions Scheme rises

Employer contributions to the Teachers' Pensions Scheme (TPS) are due to rise but despite covering this cost for schools and colleges, the Department for Education is not covering the cost for universities. This will increase the financial pressure on higher education institutions.

We are encouraging our members in England and Wales to ask their MP to sign a parliamentary motion calling on the government to intervene and cover the cost. You can use UCU's tool to contact your MP here.

Click here for longer update from UCU general secretary Jo Grady (dated 1 April 2024).

Extend your solidarity to current industrial disputes

UCU is determined to resist the waves of job cuts and attacks on working conditions taking place in post-16 education throughout the UK. You can click here for a list of current industrial disputes and find out how you can support them and extend your solidarity. The list is updated continually by UCU staff so please check back regularly.

Stop the attacks on academics: Donelan must go

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan MP recently attacked academics on social media and, having lost the confidence of those working in higher education, must now resign. Sign the petition and call on her to formally apologise and resign her position.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Reclaim Higher Education launch, Thursday 9 May

Join us on Thursday 9 May at Central Hall Westminster in London for our event to launch the Reclaim Higher Education campaign.

Special higher education sector conference, Friday 17 May

The elected representatives of UCU's higher education committee (HEC) have called for a special higher education sector conference (HESC) to identify a strategy for branches to mount a significant, coordinated, sector level response to threats to jobs, disciplines, T&Cs, including attacks on TPS and academic freedom. This will be held on Friday 17 May 2024. Click here for the convening notice for branches which includes the timetable, submission of motions, and registration of branch delegates.

Organising for Power's core fundamentals, May-June

Organising For Power's core fundamentals is a skills-based training course open to organisers worldwide from 17:00 to 19:30 each Tuesday from 7 May to 11 June 2024. The course covers: workplace leader identification; semantics; structured organising conversations; charting; and structure tests. Hear from lead trainer Jane McAlevey about why you should sign up. Participating UCU members will be placed into groups and meet up weekly to work through the course. Please click here to register; the registration deadline is Friday 26 April at 14:00.

Previous events

Campaigning workshop for branches, Tuesday 9 April

We are always stronger when we are united. We want to help branches build solidarity and share strategies to win. As part of this, we are organising a series of campaign workshops for UCU branches facing threats to jobs and working conditions.

The first workshop took place on Tuesday 9 April 2024.

Post-92 university branches meeting, Wednesday 17 April

A UK-wide post-92 university branches meeting was arranged on Wednesday 17 April 2024. We discussed job cuts, attacks to terms and conditions and threats to our national contracts and agreements.

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Last updated: 19 April 2024