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Fund the future

Fund The Future: our political strategy and how you can help

16 June 2020 | last updated: 3 July 2020

Thanks to the thousands of members who have tuned in to the launch of our Fund The Future campaign, visited our campaign website, and watched our campaign launch video since Friday.

What we are asking members to do as the first step in our campaign is contact your MP to reinforce the message of my letter to the prime minister. Our website allows you to enter any postcode and see how many students and staff are in that constituency. It creates templates for you to email or tweet the constituency MP and bring the scale of the crisis to their attention. These actions take no more than five minutes but the more letters MPs receive, the higher the issue rises on their agenda.

In the coming weeks we will be following up with other steps to increase the pressure on politicians all over the UK - and gain support from the wider public. Education is forecast to be hit harder than any other part of the economy. Now is the time to affirm the immense, irreplaceable value of the staff who make post-16 education what it is. 

The report we published with London Economics has highlighted what could happen to the higher education sector if the government does not support it. We are undertaking further detailed modelling of the importance of universities and colleges to their local economy. Our next step will be to use every opportunity this research provides to show how important it is to protect staff. 

We have to send a message to the general public, and to the employers and politicians who have the power to do something about this situation: if they do not listen to us and act, the communities which universities and colleges serve will be in trouble.

My institution is already imposing cuts on staff - what can we do?

Our campaign for funding will continue to build, but we cannot afford to wait and see. Employers have already been imposing redundancies and refusing to renew contracts for precariously employed staff - even when they can afford to keep them on the books. As we explained during the launch event, we are taking all the steps we can to help UCU branches challenge cuts which employers are making in their institutions.

We have written to branches yesterday with resources and advice to help them develop a 'jobs first' campaign to agree measures to protect staff for the whole duration of the crisis. In addition to the guidance already on our main website, we are preparing a series of events with UCU head office staff to help branches develop different aspects of their campaign, including employment law; equality issues; and researching institutional finances. Ultimately, we are ready to help branches ballot for industrial action if their employer will not put jobs first and we will throw our full weight behind any branch that finds itself in that position. 

Both aspects of this campaign are complementary. If we challenge cuts in our branches, it leaves employers no option other than to join us and push harder for better government funding. And if we can secure that funding, the union will be able to place a renewed focus on improving conditions for staff and building better workplaces so that we do not find ourselves in this position again. 

Please keep an eye on your inbox and the campaign website for further updates on our plans and the different ways you can get involved. 

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary