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Government must back education to lift Scotland out of recession, says UCU

13 March 2009

UCU Scotland will say today that long-term planning and proper investment in education are required if Scotland is to pull itself out of recession.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference this afternoon, Dr Lesley McIntosh, president-elect of UCU Scotland, will urge the government to back education as a key driver for change, particularly for part-time students and those from deprived backgrounds, in tough economic times.

In her first speech since becoming president-elect of UCU Scotland last week, Dr McIntosh will also call on the Scottish Funding Council to do more to help women in science and engineering reach the top of the profession.

Dr Lesley McIntosh will say: 'In a time of recession we should be investing in the future and, crucially, education. As we saw from the latest application figures, Scots are increasingly thinking of applying to university at a time of lack of jobs. We agree with the motion passed today at conference on the Economic Recovery Package for Scotland which calls for maximising opportunities for study at higher education level and sustainable investment in research and development and to support a new generation of green collar jobs.

'However, if we are to genuinely build the skills of the working age population there are some challenges, including parity of funding for part-time students and ensuring those from deprived backgrounds, can not only access higher education but are also able to progress to postgraduate courses.

'Equality is not only about students. Many women are put off academic work due to its competitive nature and the lack of employment security. We are pleased that Margaret Smith MSP broached the problem of the retention of women in science and engineering in universities with the Cabinet Secretary at the recent education committee evidence session. We believe the Scottish Funding Council has to do more to ensure women are able to pursue successful scientific careers in our universities and reach the top of the profession.'

Dr McIntosh will speak at a fringe at the Liberal Democrat Conference in the Norrie Millar Suite at the Perth Concert Hall at 5.30pm on Friday 13 March.

Last updated: 11 December 2015