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Gavin Williamson should reflect on own failures before criticising university staff

10 August 2021

UCU said that Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson was wrong to criticise university staff who have worked so hard, whilst his disastrous mismanagement has caused chaos to the sector.

The union was responding to Williamson's criticism of online provision.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

'Gavin Williamson is the person most responsible for the disruption and dissatisfaction experienced by students during the pandemic and university staff picked up the pieces of his disastrous mismanagement. Williamson should reflect on his own failings before denigrating the excellent online provision staff have provided. We must never forget that it was government's failure to guarantee financial support for the sector that led to students being lured back to unsafe campuses with the false promise of a normal university experience during a global pandemic, with disastrous consequences. 

'Sadly, the secretary of state has clearly not learnt any lessons and is yet again attacking university staff, peddling damaging and false narratives about the quality of online learning, and recklessly encouraging managers to ignore health and safety concerns to protect university finances.  Instead of threatening universities with a fee reduction for putting health and safety first during a pandemic, the government should be investing in higher education so universities aren't reliant on fees. A marketised model for universities, which treats education as a commodity and students as consumers will never prioritise the wellbeing of students or staff.'

Last updated: 10 August 2021