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Business of the education committee

15 May 2019

UCU Congress 2019: Saturday 25 May 2019, 15:00-15:45

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU957). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Section 2: Business of the education committee (section 4 of the NEC report to Congress)

24 - Education policy and campaigning
25 - Education and social justice
26 - Public money public code campaign
27 - Lecture capture
28 - Schoolchildren's strike and education for green jobs
29 - Extinction Rebellion/youth strikes
30 - 'Thanksgiving' for nuclear threat to existence
31 - Access in retirement to academic libraries, journals and data bases

Introduction (principles of education), paragraph 1.2

24  Education policy and campaigning - National executive committee

Congress welcomes the achievements of the education committee during 2018/19, noting in particular its work on:

  1. university admissions reform
  2. amplifying staff critiques of/attitudes towards the TEF
  3. decent apprenticeships
  4. the life changing impact of FE and adult education
  5. challenges faced by female Black professors
  6. lodging an historic and significant complaint to UNESCO on (insufficient) academic freedom in the UK.

Congress notes UCU's increasing public policy influence across all UK nations and affirms our commitment to playing an instrumental role in the development of a truly inclusive, transformative national education service.

Congress agrees the education committee should prioritise pursuit of a new project to challenge managerialism in education, including:

  1. development of resources to support coordinated branch level campaigns
  2. campaigning to support international staff, challenging financial and political barriers connected to immigration
  3. pushing to secure long-term sustainability of the Transforming FE campaign.


25  Education and social justice - Petroc

Congress believes:

  1. we need a National Education Service (NES) that recognises the need for the minds of the young to be informed and allowed to question. A child should be able to think freely with scope for imagination and creativity to have free reign.
  2. today's national curriculum is ever more abbreviated, and social and political discussion is sometimes curtailed
  3. the educational system needs radical change, to ensure future generations are offered the tools to question and challenge, according to universal educational principles based on diversity, equality and informed critical thinking.

Congress resolves that UCU campaigns for:

  1. students to be empowered to explore ideas critically
  2. campuses to identify safe spaces open to all, where social and political ideas can be shared
  3. a national strategy for this, working to promote it with other unions and organisations.

Taken in parts: bullet b LOST

Remaining motion CARRIED

25A.1 North West regional committee

Add to end:

  1. That student reps are invited to UCU events to increase the every day solidarity that exists between staff and student unions, further encouraging students to take their places at the top table.


25A.2    LGBT+ members standing committee

Add to Congress resolves:

  1. A national education policy, developed by Government, which
    1. guarantees the primacy of critical thinking & equality in the classroom,
    2. prohibits religion being used as grounds to deny or limit the equal treatment of vulnerable minority groups such as LGBT+ people
    3. prevents religion  being used to limit the positive, progressive inclusion and visibility of LGBT+ people and relationships in all teaching curricula and all learning materials across the full curriculum.


Developing clear policies, paragraph 2.1

26  Public money public code campaign - Academic related, professional staff committee

Congress notes:

  1. the tendency of institutions to centralise IT staff, closely followed by greater outsourcing/buying closed software solutions
  2. this narrows the scope for up-skilling/professional development and gives management the feeling that staff are a commodity resource, leading to deprofessionalisation of the workforce
  3. the failure of some proprietary software in producing value for money to meet the sectors needs.

Congress notes:

  1. that this narrowing of offering to academic staff impacts on academic freedom, as the institution will push for their chosen platform or solution
  2. this strategy leads to closed proprietary systems and vendor lock-in, and in the case of research increases the cost of reproducibility.

Congress resolves:

  1. that UCU sign the FSFE 'public money public code' declaration
  2. to work with the public money public code campaign for open software in education.


27  (EP) Lecture capture - UCU Scotland

Congress notes that new technology such as lecture capture and space surveillance mechanisms have significant implications for post-16 education.Congress calls upon NEC to develop and update UCU policy and negotiating guidance to take the following issues into account:

  1. data protection issues, including privacy of staff and students
  2. the principle of freely given consent for recordings
  3. dignity at work and study
  4. copyright, intellectual property and performance rights
  5. training needs of staff
  6. storage, retention and distribution of recordings
  7. academic freedom
  8. equality impact assessments.


New paragraph, education and climate change, after paragraph 3.1

28  Composite: Schoolchildren's strike and education for green jobs - Open University, National executive committee, City of Oxford College Activate Learning

Congress welcomes the commitment by Jeremy Corbyn that a Labour Government will create 400,000 new green jobs to tackle climate change. This provides opportunities to implement a Just Transition agenda through the Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA).

Congress welcomes and expresses solidarity with the schoolchildren's climate change strike, protesting about the lack of action by governments on climate change. Congress regards the protests as being about a fundamentally important political issue as well as an important part of 'citizenship education'.

Future generations, both in jobs concerned with climate change and the wider workforce, need awareness of environmental issues and of producing in a carbon-neutral manner. Awareness is also needed of equality issues, so that solutions to problems of climate change are not at the expense of the most disadvantaged groups and peoples in the world. The post 16 education sector can contribute research, education and training to provide the knowledge basis for tackling climate change and to develop the workforce needed for green jobs.

UCU will work with a Labour government and environmental groups to develop research, education courses and qualifications to support expansion of green jobs. These should replace high-carbon industries in a socially equitable way.

Congress asks NEC to:

  1. organise support for further action by school and college students on this issue
  2. seek cooperation with the NUS to involve student members in a supportive fashion
  3. encourage UCU members to develop appropriate teaching material which could be used in schools and colleges to help develop the debate around the issue of climate change and, where appropriate, include the debate about climate change in courses.


28A.1 University of Manchester

Add after 'equitable way' at end of paragraph 4

Congress welcomes the attention drawn to the climate emergency by Extinction Rebellion, and Greta Thunberg's call for a general strike to demand dramatic, immediate action.

Add points 4 and 5:

  1. campaign for universities, USS, and equivalent institutions to divest from carbon-heavy industries and implement carbon reductions and offsets in travel to help become carbon neutral by 2030.
  2. support and promote calls for a general strike for action on climate change, and call on the TUC to organise this.


29  Extinction Rebellion/youth strikes - National executive committee


  1. offers its solidarity to those who have taken part in Youth Strike for Climate and the Extinction Rebellion actions
  2. believes that the current climate change emergency justifies the action taken
  3. welcomes the call by Greta Thunberg for a general strike to highlight climate emergency and demand urgent measures by government and employers to tackle climate change.


  1. defends the right of school, college and university students to take part in protests and opposes any disciplinary action taken against them
  2. encourages UCU branches to work with Extinction Rebellion and Youth Strike for Climate activists to support and promote their actions
  3. calls on UCU branches to campaign for climate emergencies to be declared on university and college campuses
  4. asks members to engage individually and collectively at their institutions to achieve as many positive climate related changes as possible.


30  'Thanksgiving' for nuclear threat to existence - National executive committee

Congress deplores the Thanksgiving service on 3 May for 50 years of nuclear weapons and recently announced US proposals to use nuclear reactors on the battlefield and notes a recent NGO report on Trident replacement overspend and delays.

Congress reaffirms policy of committed opposition to nuclear weapons and nuclear power and that nuclear power is not the solution to climate change.

Congress resolves to

  1. produce and distribute campaigning and organising materials on opposition to nuclear weapons and climate change as two major threats to continued existence
  2. encourage branches to organise meetings and other activities on nuclear weapons and climate change
  3. encourage members to engage with their students on these issues, including in their teaching
  4. campaign, including by supporting broadbased demonstrations and other events, a public statement and encouraging members to write to MPs, for an immediate end to the Trident replacement programme.


31  (EP) Access in retirement to academic libraries, journals and data bases - Yorkshire and Humberside retired members

Congress notes that many university and college staff wish to continue with research and scholarly activities in retirement. However, if they do not have emeritus or visiting scholar status, access to academic libraries, journals and data bases may be ended with retirement, or severely restricted. This is particularly problematic where specialist information is required from scholarly journals which increasingly exist only in electronic forms and from which retired researchers find they are now excluded.Therefore Congress asks the NEC to investigate the possibility of free academic library access that adopts standard academic borrowing conditions for all retired college and university staff, regardless of seniority - for instance, on a three-year renewable basis. Congress further recommends that NEC investigate whether remote, and not only on-site, access can be made available for university and college staff who have retired. Congress requests the NEC to issue guidance to members on this matter.


Last updated: 3 June 2019