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UCU response to Queen's speech

6 November 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU today said that a carrot rather than a stick approach should be employed in an effort to keep 16-year-olds in education and training.

Commenting on the Queen's speech, the union also warned about the implications of the proposed sale of the student loans book.

Commenting on plans to raise the compulsory school, college or training leaving age to 18 by 2015, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We welcome the government's commitment to try and provide a better start in life for all teenagers. Students must be encouraged to continue their education or training beyond the age of 16 but compulsion is not the right approach. Criminalising young people will only create resentment and is most likely to affect those who could benefit the most.

'This Bill represents the last chance saloon for employers to provide training for their workers. Time and again we have heard employers demanding things from the education system, now is the time for them to contribute financially. If voluntarism doesn't work, as it hasn't in the past, then we need to ensure a new legal framework forcing them to pay up will be in place by 2010.'

Commenting on the sale of the student loans book, Sally Hunt said: 'This appears to be a short-term strategy as the government will ultimately lose money in the long term from repaid debts. It is untested, takes no account of whether it provides value for money for the taxpayer, and gives no guarantee that it will provide a single extra penny of the much needed investment in higher education. Let's not forget that few private companies have a proud record of taking over the running of systems like student loans.'