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UCU response to Lord Mandelson's speech at CBI conference

20 October 2009

UCU today welcomed comments from Lord Mandelson that the government would continue to try to widen access to university and invest heavily in our university system. However, the union said that rhetoric alone could not ensure the future of further or higher education.

Responding to the speech, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'It is extremely encouraging to hear Lord Mandelson reiterate the government's noble commitment to widening participation in our universities; something all the major political parties now seem to have come round to supporting. It is also heartening to hear such honest words on social mobility.

'The first logical step would be to reverse planned cuts of £400m'
Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

'Lord Mandelson is right that there is no silver bullet, but he is equally correct to state that education is the closest thing we have to one. To that end it is absolutely vital that the government continues to invest in both further and higher education. The first logical step would be to reverse planned cuts of £400m.

'We have concerns about his comments on expanding investment, particularly the idea of a more professional approach to endowments. We do not have the same culture of donations to former institutions as they do in America. A quick look across the Atlantic reveals the danger of budgeting for endowment money in hard times where numerous institutions find themselves millions short in funds they had anticipated from generous alumni.'
Yesterday UCU published a report looking at the educational achievement of all constituencies in Britain. The report can be found at

Last updated: 11 December 2015