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Government urged to back universities at UCU Scotland conference

20 March 2009

Scottish universities overtly pro-business agendas, staff being forced to spy on their students and fighting redundancies are among the issues up for debate at the UCU Scotland Congress today.

The union is expected to call on the Scottish government to support an inquiry into the future of the Scottish universities with campus trade unions ahead of the next election. Other motions condemn the overtly pro-business agenda of some universities, who demand institutional autonomy from the government but erode the academic freedom of their own staff.

A motion on immigration condemns the monitoring of students and staff required under the new points-based system and the requirement to prove students have sufficient maintenance costs which the union says discriminates against those from poorer countries and families.

Other motions to be debated include protecting staff from redundancies, campaigning for equality of pay and conditions for hourly paid staff, and using mediation to resolve employment disputes. International issues and climate change will also be discussed.

The congress will be opened by UCU Scotland President, Terry Brotherstone. He said: 'The tracking and monitoring of students is a breach of international human rights and can only damage Scotland's international reputation as a great place to study. We will be calling on the Scottish Funding Council to reduce the burden for monitoring of foreign students and to ensure that monitoring requirements for international staff does not result in the introduction of stringent absence monitoring for all staff.

'Universities' defining role as centres for advancing knowledge and promoting personal intellectual development depends on academic freedom. The recognition of this is central if they are to maintain and enhance their increasingly vital contribution to Scotland's economic development, its technological innovativeness, and its evidential base for public policy.

'UCU Scotland's October 2008 conference "Intellect and Democracy" endorsed the call for a democratic, evidence-led discussion about the future of Scottish higher education. Today we will call on the Scottish government to commit adequate resource to enable an inquiry into the future of our universities, established in consultation with the trade unions, and to report before the next Scottish elections.'

Last updated: 11 December 2015