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Big business must contribute to higher education, says UCU as Cameron announces 'technical innovation centres'

25 October 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Commenting on David Cameron's announcement that £200m will be spent creating new centres to help commercialise university research, UCU called for big business to make a greater financial contribution to higher education.

Speaking at the CBI annual conference, the prime minister described how 'technical innovation centres' would build bridges between higher education institutions and industry. UCU welcomed the fact that the prime minister recognised business can benefit from close collaboration with universities, but said the relationship between the two has always been far too one-sided.
Businesses have always been one of the main beneficiaries of higher education but have historically contributed very little to the sector, as identified in the landmark Dearing report. Following a £2.9bn budget cut for higher education in last week's Comprehensive Spending Review, UCU believes it is time for business to start making a significant contribution.
The union has proposed a modest Business Education Tax for companies who make profits of over £1.5m a year. Under the union's proposal to increase UK corporation tax to the G7 average of 32.87%, and hypothecating the extra revenue to higher education proposal, the vast majority of UK businesses would be unaffected. For more on UCU's proposals visit: Scrap fees and fund university through business tax, says new report
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'It is typical of the inverted logic of the coalition government, that less than a week after slashing £2.9bn off university budgets, it acknowledges that higher education has a key role in generating innovation and economic growth.
'If there is to be a proper relationship between universities and business, then big business needs to start paying its fair share – they've had a free ride for far too long. If the government really wants true collaboration between universities and business it should reverse the cuts and ensure business finally contributes to our universities through a business education tax.'