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UCU manifesto calls for employers to help fund education

11 June 2024

The next government must replace Ofsted inspections, make employers pay towards to the costs of building a skilled workforce, and help improve the pay and conditions of further and higher education workers, UCU said today as it launched its 2024 election manifesto.

After more than a decade of real-terms cuts and marketisation, the union, which represents over 120,000 educators and professional staff, launched a manifesto outlining a series of proposals for radical reform to create an education system that works for everyone. 

Based around five key principles for a fairer post-school education system, the document includes a range of proposals covering further, higher, adult and prison education. These include: 

  • an employer higher education levy, so employers pay their fair share of the cost of building a skilled workforce 
  • replacing Ofsted inspections with a peer-led improvement model     
  • closing the pay gap between school and college teaching staff, and implementing binding national bargaining in further education 
  • introducing a national contract for prison educators 
  • creating robust protections for academic freedom.

The union said it was calling on the next government to be bold and bring about meaningful change in post-16 education, rather than just tinkering around the edges. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The general election offers the country a chance to radically reform education after the damage done to colleges and universities by more than a decade of real terms cuts and free market fundamentalism.  

'Post-16 education now needs proper investment so that students get the teaching and support they deserve and so that our economy gets the skilled workforce that will help it grow. The next government must show a genuine commitment to securing the future of the post-16 education sector rather than simply tinkering around the edges. 

'Our manifesto is a vision of properly funded, fair and sustainable education that works for everyone. We are willing to engage with politicians from across the political spectrum to build on this vision and urge them to seriously consider our policy demands. Likewise, if the next government fails to match our vision for education, we will hold them to account.'  

Last updated: 11 June 2024