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International Development

23 March 2007

The trade union movement in the UK has increasingly become involved in issues relating to the developing world.

'For example, through the Robin Hood Tax campaign on poverty and climate change (see also the Robin Hood Tax resources and suggestions document below), both here and abroad, or the UCU supported Jubilee Debt Campaign.

Many UCU members either through their work or through personal experience are aware of the part we can play in spreading the values of higher and further education to areas of the world where these have been denied. Education and economic and social development go hand in hand and part of UCU's international work is aimed at raising awareness about this among members and in the academic community.

Brain drain

UCU supports the right of academic and related staff to migrate and take up positions in other countries' universities and colleges. This is beneficial both to the receiving institution, the individual member and the academic subject they are teaching and researching. However there is a down side to unfettered migration which African and Eastern European education unions in particular have raised with us. The brain drain is a reality and many countries find themselves losing academic skills to richer countries with the net effect that they cannot sustain their own Education Services. This leaves the door open to private providers who operate on a for profit basis and without the same rigour as we are familiar with.

Prior to amalgamation in 2006 AUT and NATFHE together obtained funds administered by the TUC and DfID to raise awareness of the issue, particularly as it affects higher education in Africa.  We commissioned a report on the issue [374kb] and held a well-attended conference in March 2006.  Our end of project submission is also available. [498kb]

Since the end of the project we have continued to raise the issue within Education International and have kept it on the agenda. See also the TUC's international development section.

Last updated: 25 March 2020