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Taking action in higher education

Government promoting ignorance over education, UCU leader will say

1 June 2010 | last updated: 6 January 2016

The general secretary of UCU will today tell delegates at the union's annual Congress that the new coalition's appetite for a policy of ignorance over education risks betraying an entire generation and preserving education for the wealthy.

In a scathing attack on both components of the new government, Sally Hunt says she doesn't agree with Nick (Clegg) or his new best friend George (Osborne). She slams the government for prioritising billions of pounds in tax breaks for business at the same time as it slashes budgets for education, children and families.
 
She will tell delegates in Manchester that the response from political leaders to the current crisis has been pathetic and says the legacy of expensive education we will leave to our children and grandchildren is shameful. She concludes by setting out the case for education and why UCU members must continue to defend it.
 
Speaking about the coalition government, Sally Hunt will say: 'It seems that education and learning are out of political fashion. What kind of government would want to cut colleges and universities by £1.5bn while proposing to give £8 billion pounds of tax giveaways to big business? Let me state for the record, I don't agree with Nick. Or his new best friend George. Or any other member of this government which has decided to prioritise the rich at the expense of the poor. This government has an ignorance policy where its education policy should be.
 
'The government is ignoring our history. It ignores the fact that it has been government investment which has made our universities the envy of the world. It ignores the fact that it is only through further education that people can retrain and re-skill. And it ignores the fact that a modern society that wants to compete in a high-skill global economy needs a better-educated workforce.'
 
Turning her ire to the possibility of MPs reneging on a key election promise to vote and campaign against any rise in fees, Sally Hunt will say: 'Politicians who campaigned on an anti-fees ticket and then choose to abstain on any vote in the House will never be trusted again. Politicians must repay the faith voters showed in them.'
 
On the possibility of students and their parents being forced to pay even more money to go to university, Sally Hunt will say: 'We are all wondering about our children and grand children. How much will an education cost by the time they are grown up?  The promise made by each generation to its successor in the modern age was to increase opportunity and expand learning. The second great depression and the pathetic response to it by our political leaders has put paid to that.'
 
Speaking about education and the need to defend it, Sally Hunt will say: 'Education encourages all that is best in our society; increasing democratic engagement; promoting a sense of mutual regard for each other; the idea that everybody has a stake in the country, and that we're all in it together. We need to win the argument with the public that universities and colleges matter. Too often we are the first for the axe because the politicians think they can get away with it. Yet our doctors, nurses and teachers are trained in colleges and universities.  Our engineers and are architects too.'

Listen to Sally's interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme:



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