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UCU response to government announcement on action to support young people into universities

20 August 2020

UCU welcomed the action taken by government to support young people into their first choice university but raised concerns about the likely severe knock-on impact of the proposals.

It said provisions for deferrals and alternative courses will mean some universities would be able to hoover up even more students at the expense of other institutions, while an increased intake would intensify health and safety risks. The union added that places for BTEC students and many A-level students must be protected whilst they wait to receive their grades.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'This is a welcome reprieve for many prospective students, but the government's shambolic decision-making means that every action is taken at the last second and the damaging consequences of those actions are passed straight on to hard-working university staff. This year staff have needlessly faced cuts and threats of redundancy because the government is unable plan properly, they are now dealing with unbearable workloads trying to fix this mess. Any increase in student intake cannot be at the expense of staff working extra hours.

'Increasing teaching grants and honouring students' preferred courses is the right thing to do, but the government must now protect places for BTEC and A-level students still waiting for their results. 
 
'We now need to see a proper health and safety plan for how large numbers of students will be welcomed to university safely in the middle of a pandemic. The sector also needs significantly more financial support so that institutions who miss out because students choose to go elsewhere are shielded from further chaos, jobs are protected, and the university sector in all its diversity is well placed to lead the recovery from this crisis.'

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