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Business of the education committee

17:00, Wednesday 27 May 2009

Adult learning (paragraphs 3-4)

35  ELQ cuts - Open University

Congress reiterates its opposition to the government's policy of not funding institutions for students studying courses at a level equivalent to or lower than a qualification they already hold (ELQ). This policy is inconsistent with the government's proclaimed commitment to lifelong learning and has a particular impact on institutions which have done most to promote adult and/or part-time education, and to widen participation. Especially in the current economic climate, it is more important than ever that obstacles are not placed in the way of those wishing to return to higher education in order to refresh or broaden their education, irrespective of their previous qualification level.

Congress pledges to work in alliance with other bodies in the sector, including student organisations and the universities themselves, and through the auspices of the Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning among other avenues, to reverse this fundamentally flawed policy.

CARRIED

The union's vision of education (paragraph 5)

36  Democratic accountability and user involvement - Lambeth College

Democratic accountability and user involvement have declined alongside recent funding and policy changes and the marketisation of education.

This congress agrees to research and campaign against the erosion of accountability in further and higher education, alongside other unions.

CARRIED

37  Persistent failure of leadership and management at Doncaster College - Doncaster College 

This congress calls upon central government to investigate proposals by management at Doncaster College in the light of successive failures of leadership and management within the institution.

Current plans include increased class sizes, threats to over 300 jobs, replacing experienced, qualified lecturers by assessors, increased pressure on all through maximised and excessive staff utilisation coupled with redundancy or redeployment of tutors with leadership roles.

What assurances are there that these cuts will not affect the quality of the education and skills available to the community of Doncaster?

CARRIED

Academic freedom (paragraph 6)

38   Online learning, intellectual property and academic freedom - National Executive Committee       

Congress notes the rapid increase in various forms of online learning and the fact that this development is often driven by cost-cutting and commercial considerations rather than by sound educational principles and practice. Congress also notes developments in the dissemination of academic research and publications through electronic means.

These trends have major implications for UCU members as teachers, scholars and researchers whether in further, adult or higher education. They impact on them professionally and also on their intellectual property rights and academic freedom.

Congress instructs the NEC in liaison with the education and other appropriate committees to promote discussion of these areas as widely as possible among members, with a view to issuing up to date policy statements and advice.

CARRIED

Education and the recession (paragraph 7)

39  Education and recession - National Executive Committee

Congress notes with grave concern the impact of the economic recession, particularly the massive increase in unemployment. UCU members have a vital role to play in the provision of education to improve the quality of people's lives and their future prospects whether in work or leisure, as well as contributing to the understanding and analysis of the profound social, economic and political impact of the current crisis.

However, congress believes that the ability of our members to meet these challenges is undermined by inadequate and inflexible funding and by the government's narrow focus on skills and its reliance on employer-led demand and marketisation.

Congress calls on the NEC to promote vigorously the union's alternative vision of education and to campaign to increase political and public awareness of the fact that that now is the time for renewed investment in, and wider access to, high quality education and training for all.

CARRIED (AMENDED)

39A.1  - University of Edinburgh

Add at the end:

This should include high quality and well funded second-chance and access programmes in further and higher education to help lift out of unemployment and casual low-paid work those whose initial education was limited or unsuccessful.

CARRIED

39A.2  - East Midlands Regional Committee

Add: (at the end of the motion)

Congress further notes the call by the NUT national congress to call for a co-ordinated trade union demonstration over the impact of the recession on education and on youth unemployment.

Congress resolves that such a demonstration should be organised to coincide with the Labour Party Congress in Brighton in October 2009.

CARRIED

Substantive motion:

Congress notes with grave concern the impact of the economic recession, particularly the massive increase in unemployment. UCU members have a vital role to play in the provision of education to improve the quality of people's lives and their future prospects whether in work or leisure, as well as contributing to the understanding and analysis of the profound social, economic and political impact of the current crisis.

However, congress believes that the ability of our members to meet these challenges is undermined by inadequate and inflexible funding and by the government's narrow focus on skills and its reliance on employer-led demand and marketisation.

Congress calls on the NEC to promote vigorously the union's alternative vision of education and to campaign to increase political and public awareness of the fact that that now is the time for renewed investment in, and wider access to, high quality education and training for all. This should include high quality and well funded second-chance and access programmes in further and higher education to help lift out of unemployment and casual low-paid work those whose initial education was limited or unsuccessful.

Congress further notes the call by the NUT national congress to call for a co-ordinated trade union demonstration over the impact of the recession on education and on youth unemployment.

Congress resolves that such a demonstration should be organised to coincide with the Labour Party Congress in Brighton in October 2009.

Last updated: 27 May 2009