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Lecturers demand universities come clean on privatisation

13 February 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU has today written to all vice-chancellors and principals of UK universities demanding that they commit to no further privatisation of key university academic functions.

Private companies are seeking to take over the running of universities' foreign language schools and staff at Newcastle University, the University of East Anglia and Exeter University have already been transferred to the private company INTO.

UCU is concerned about the quality of education provided and the impact on the terms and conditions of the staff where private provision replaces that of the institution itself. The union already has examples from these institutions where INTO has:·

  • slashed the hourly rate for hourly-paid staff
  • tried to recruit less-qualified staff for lower pay
  • announced redundancies as part of the transfer of language courses from the university to INTO
  • increased the number of hours staff are on call for

UCU is committed to campaigning vigorously against the privatisation of higher education and the union warns in its open letter, signed by thousands of members, that it will resist attempts to transfer academic departments or key university functions into private ownership.

UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UK universities have a proud tradition and an internationally-respected reputation for the quality of education they provide. We must not allow private companies to ride roughshod over that tradition and damage our reputation.

'The academic community is overwhelmingly opposed to further privatisation, which threatens both the quality of educational provision and the pay and conditions of university staff. INTO, and others like them, should be in little doubt that their presence will be resisted by the vast majority of those who work in higher education.'