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UCU comments on interim Augar Review response and TEF

21 January 2021

UCU has today responded to the publication of both the government's interim response to the Augar review of post-18 education and funding and the independent review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).

The union said the Augar Review response was a missed opportunity to change the current, toxic higher education funding system and tackle the weaknesses that have been exposed by the current pandemic. UCU said that the interim report failed to deal with underfunding in further education and instead kicked the issue into the long grass until the Spring Spending Review.

Calling for TEF to be scrapped, UCU said that with staff facing burnout and increased stress levels now was not the time to increase their administrative workloads with dubious metrics and box-ticking exercises.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady, said: 'The previous prime minister commissioned the Augar review because the higher education funding system was so politically toxic. Sadly this interim response confirms that there will not be a radical change to the current system. The Westminster government is wasting an opportunity to make a real difference for students and institutions.

'Covid has exposed many of the weaknesses of the tuition fee system. We need a different approach to HE funding which provides long-term security, doesn't leave institutions exposed to major market shocks and puts the interests of students and staff first. In further education, the government needs to deal with the glaring problem of the chronic underinvestment which the sector has suffered. It's not good enough to kick the issue into the long grass until the Spring Spending Review.

'We are disappointed that the government is pushing ahead with the TEF. Everybody agrees that teaching, alongside high-quality research, should be at the heart of higher education and our high standards are one of the reasons so many overseas students continue to choose to study here. The TEF's metrics were already an extremely poor proxy for quality but will be of even less use in light of the impact of Covid on employment and student feedback.'

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