Concerns over secret privatisation deal at City University

19 January 2009 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU today slammed privatisation proposals at City University. The union said the plans to privatise the recruitment, teaching and accommodation of international students had been pulled together without proper consultation and warned the University would be 'gambling with its reputation' if it went ahead with a joint venture with the firm INTO.

INTO has been overwhelmingly rejected by staff at every UK university that has been polled on whether or not the institution should get involved with the company. The union is concerned that because of that record, and the admission by INTO's Chairman last year that INTO's rates of pay for teaching staff are 'probably worse' than in their host universities, the university is trying to rush the plans through without proper consultation.

'UCU is deeply concerned that the university is rushing into a decision that may gamble the university's reputation'

At Essex University, Goldsmiths College and Queen's University Belfast, staff were asked whether they believed that a joint venture with INTO would adversely affect the reputation of the university. In each case, over 90% of staff voting said they believed that their university's reputation would suffer as a result of a partnership with INTO.

UCU has today written to each member of City University's senate to urge them to reject INTO's advances at Wednesday's meeting. In the letter the union's general secretary, Sally Hunt, says she is 'deeply concerned that the university is rushing into a decision that may gamble the university's reputation on a risky joint venture with INTO'.
Sally Hunt articulates the union's concerns that there is no evidence of the university conducting a serious and meaningful review of the current service provision and that it has failed to consult with the staff unions and other university stakeholders in a meaningful consultation at any stage.
The union believes that there are serious questions that need to be asked about the detail of the academic control and quality assurance that would operate in such a joint venture and warned that any reputation damage would be directly suffered by the university not the partner company.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU will continue its campaign against the privatisation of higher education. We are not prepared to watch our universities risk hard won reputations and future financial health by signing capital and revenue over to what are in effect private sector property developers.
'UCU and university staff clearly oppose any partnership with INTO and have made that quite clear in the past. Today I have written to members of the senate at City to request that they do not endorse the privatisation plans because, aside from anything else, the University has failed to do a proper assessment of what the deal would mean and whether it is actually necessary.'