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Taking action in higher education

Business of the education committee

UCU Congress 2012: Saturday 9 June 2012, 10:00-12:00.

Chapter 5 of the NEC's report to UCU Congress 2012:
UCU314.html | UCU314.rtf

Motions:

2 - Defending public education
3 - Marketisation of education
4 - Cuts, access and opportunities in post-16 education
5 - Fees in HE and FE
6 - Fee remission for people on low incomes
7 - Youth unemployment
8 - Part-time students in adult and continuing education in HE
9 - Professional autonomy, academic freedom and governance
L3 - Defend academic statutes at UCL

10 - Academic freedom and the cost of academic journals
11 - Defending academic and trade union freedom
12 - Representation on university and college remuneration committees
13 - HE in FE
14 - Teacher education and training
15 - Attacks on professional staff


Defending public education  (report paragraph 2.1)

2 Composite: Defending public education - University of Hull, Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee, London Metropolitan University (City)

Congress notes the increased visibility and management support in some institutions in both FE and HE for collaboration with 'for profit' educators.

Congress opposes the privatisation and marketisation of the education system at all levels. Congress asserts the belief that the purpose of education should be to educate people as human beings and as critical, thinking citizens for a democratic society. This means educational services must be run as a public service, not as private businesses.

Privatisation and marketisation of the education service undermines democracy and civil society. It also attacks the equality and widening participation agendas, since private educational businesses will not cater for the needs of all learners.

Furthermore privatisation undermines the employment conditions of the workforce, particularly negotiated rates of pay and conditions of service. Privatisation of schools into free schools and academies also poses a threat to the viability of the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Congress calls on UCU to work with other trade unions, students' organisations and appropriate campaign groups to defend and restore public education, including a broad campaigning strategy behind a manifesto in defence of education as a universal public good, free at the point of delivery at all levels, where the benefits of the relationship between education and society in terms of the economy, critical citizenship, democracy and social wellbeing are clearly named.

Congress calls on UCU NEC to identify examples of 'worst practice' UK based 'for profit' institutions and to compile literature for use in branches and local associations to work with local students unions to combat moves to privatisation.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

2A.1 National Executive Committee

At end of penultimate paragraph, add:

'Building on the success of the Defend Public Education conference on 10 March, Congress instructs the Education Committee to organise a broad-based conference in spring 2013 to launch the manifesto.'

CARRIED

2A.2 University of Leeds

Insert a penultimate paragraph:

Congress notes initiatives involving UCU members discussing the provision of alternative and free higher education to those who are now effectively excluded from the system. This reflects deep dissatisfaction by members with the direction of HE and its values. Whilst fighting to defend publicly funded education, Congress agrees to engage with these developments, but as part of a wider trade union initiative, involving community education groups, to explore alternative critical higher education for workers.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the increased visibility and management support in some institutions in both FE and HE for collaboration with 'for profit' educators.

Congress opposes the privatisation and marketisation of the education system at all levels. Congress asserts the belief that the purpose of education should be to educate people as human beings and as critical, thinking citizens for a democratic society. This means educational services must be run as a public service, not as private businesses.

Privatisation and marketisation of the education service undermines democracy and civil society. It also attacks the equality and widening participation agendas, since private educational businesses will not cater for the needs of all learners.

Furthermore privatisation undermines the employment conditions of the workforce, particularly negotiated rates of pay and conditions of service. Privatisation of schools into free schools and academies also poses a threat to the viability of the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Congress calls on UCU to work with other trade unions, students' organisations and appropriate campaign groups to defend and restore public education, including a broad campaigning strategy behind a manifesto in defence of education as a universal public good, free at the point of delivery at all levels, where the benefits of the relationship between education and society in terms of the economy, critical citizenship, democracy and social wellbeing are clearly named. Building on the success of the Defend Public Education conference on 10 March, Congress instructs the Education Committee to organise a broad-based conference in spring 2013 to launch the manifesto.

Congress notes initiatives involving UCU members discussing the provision of alternative and free higher education to those who are now effectively excluded from the system. This reflects deep dissatisfaction by members with the direction of HE and its values. Whilst fighting to defend publicly funded education, Congress agrees to engage with these developments, but as part of a wider trade union initiative, involving community education groups, to explore alternative critical higher education for workers.

Congress calls on UCU NEC to identify examples of 'worst practice' UK based 'for profit' institutions and to compile literature for use in branches and local associations to work with local students unions to combat moves to privatisation.


3 Marketisation of education - Southern regional committee

This Congress notes with grave concern the attempt by government and management to convert post-16 students into customers.

While accepting that all students are entitled to share in the shaping of educational provision, Congress believes that education should not be equated with consumer goods. Congress therefore instructs NEC to:

  1. strenuously challenge the inappropriate methodology and application of student surveys and their use in league tables
  2. urgently develop new safeguards and issue advice to protect members against the complaints culture arising from marketisation of FHE
  3. initiate liaison with the NUS to produce a meaningful and effective student feedback process that will enhance educational provision in the post-16 sector.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

3A.1 National Executive Committee

Insert at the end of point 1:

This to include a briefing on the potential for discrimination against black members, disabled members, LGBT members and women members in student surveys and league tables.

Add at end of point 3

This process should take account of the importance of equality issues and the avoidance of discrimination against those with a protected characteristic.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

This Congress notes with grave concern the attempt by government and management to convert post-16 students into customers.

While accepting that all students are entitled to share in the shaping of educational provision, Congress believes that education should not be equated with consumer goods. Congress therefore instructs NEC to:

  1. strenuously challenge the inappropriate methodology and application of student surveys and their use in league tables. This to include a briefing on the potential for discrimination against black members, disabled members, LGBT members and women members in student surveys and league tables.
  2. urgently develop new safeguards and issue advice to protect members against the complaints culture arising from marketisation of FHE
  3. initiate liaison with the NUS to produce a meaningful and effective student feedback process that will enhance educational provision in the post-16 sector. This process should take account of the importance of equality issues and the avoidance of discrimination against those with a protected characteristic.

Access to Education (report paragraph 3.1)

4 Cuts, access and opportunities in post-16 education - National Executive Committee

Continuing cuts to education are being accompanied by policies to promote the privatisation of educational institutions and by further restrictions on access to learning. With rising unemployment for adults and young people, individuals and communities face falling living standards and increased hardship.

Congress believes that too much of the current curriculum across education is focused on a narrow skills agenda for a jobless labour market. Congress calls for an industrial policy that would link skills development strategy to growth. The introduction of HE and FE loans will severely limit access to learning. Students on Access to HE programmes will face a double blow of having to take out a loan in FE and then a loan in HE.

Congress reaffirms UCU's commitment to defend access for all to a broad curriculum reflecting the wider role of post-16 education to promote community cohesion as well as to prepare people for work.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

4A.1 Northern regional committee

To add at the end:

'......and to that aim calls on the NEC to revitalise the national campaign for free and fair education for all. To campaign against fees, against the reduction in state spending on education and privatisation. To achieve this aim, to work with the NUS, students and anti - cuts groups and Trade Councils and work towards calling a national demonstration in the autumn.'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Continuing cuts to education are being accompanied by policies to promote the privatisation of educational institutions and by further restrictions on access to learning. With rising unemployment for adults and young people, individuals and communities face falling living standards and increased hardship.

Congress believes that too much of the current curriculum across education is focused on a narrow skills agenda for a jobless labour market. Congress calls for an industrial policy that would link skills development strategy to growth. The introduction of HE and FE loans will severely limit access to learning. Students on Access to HE programmes will face a double blow of having to take out a loan in FE and then a loan in HE.

Congress reaffirms UCU's commitment to defend access for all to a broad curriculum reflecting the wider role of post-16 education to promote community cohesion as well as to prepare people for work and to that aim calls on the NEC to revitalise the national campaign for free and fair education for all. To campaign against fees, against the reduction in state spending on education and privatisation. To achieve this aim, to work with the NUS, students and anti - cuts groups and Trade Councils and work towards calling a national demonstration in the autumn.


5 Fees in HE and FE - Oxford and Cherwell Valley College

Congress notes the alarming drop in the number of students applying through UCAS to university this year as a direct consequence of the rise in tuition fees. In addition, increases in fees in further education are causing the closure of courses and the denial of educational opportunities. Congress re-affirms its opposition to tuition fees generally in both FE and HE, believing that education should be a right not a privilege.

CARRIED


6 Fee remission for people on low incomes - West Midlands regional committee

Congress is deeply concerned at the changes to Fee Remission Eligibility criteria from August 2011, which effectively denies further education to the most vulnerable groups in society - the very people with most to gain.

Even with the concessions announced in August 2011 (which allowed individuals 'seeking work' to claim fee remission) for the current academic year, many were still facing huge fees to study. In particular, this affected students over 19 years old with learning disabilities.

Congress believes education is a right not a privilege, and all members of society should be able to access appropriate programmes.

Congress calls on the Government to confirm that people on low incomes will be eligible for fee remission from 2012-13, whatever their abilities and potential for work.

CARRIED


7 Youth unemployment - East Midlands regional committee

Congress notes:

  1. that young people in Britain are bearing the brunt of austerity drive with more than 1 million young people unemployed- more than 20%
  2. the closing down of educational opportunities for young people through the removal of EMA & ALG, raising of university fees and proposals to charge fees for Level 2 and 3 courses.
  3. the attempts to close down and privatise Youth Services in many areas and the loss of over 8000 jobs in the Connexions service.
  4. the campaigning record of UCU in defending students and young people in their campaigning activity
  5. the fact that riots spread across many of Britain's cities in the summer of 2011.

Congress believes:

  1. young people need a clear commitment from the government for fully funded education and training opportunities.
  2. that young people need bold measures to stimulate the economy and produce jobs.

CARRIED


8 Part-time students in Adult and Continuing Education in HE - Birkbeck

This Congress notes with regret that despite the much trumpeted 'level playing field' in access to student loans for part-time students, the consequence of the Government's funding policies has been to destroy what remains of a once flourishing programme of university adult and continuing education, both at the pre-degree and postgraduate level. Most concerning is the intended annihilation of learning perceived to be superfluous to the governments 'employability' agenda.

Congress calls on opposition parties to affirm a new commitment to adult and continuing education and to work together with unions in higher education to restore these vital elements of part-time university provision which contributed so much to the well-being of our society.


Governance and academic freedom (report paragraph 4.1)

9 Composite: Professional autonomy, academic freedom and governance - UCU Scotland, National Executive Committee, London Metropolitan University (North)

Congress notes the reduction of staff and union participation in the internal governance of institutions in further and higher education, making it increasingly remote from members and ordinary staff. In addition, decision-making is increasingly opaque and unaccountable and contrary to good equality practice. This is part of the corrosive managerialism of our institutions, supported and encouraged by government policies imposing competition, commercialism and marketisation on our education service.

Congress believes that this trend not only decreases the accountability of institutions and their managers to the communities that they serve, but is also part of the erosion of the professional autonomy of our members and threatens to sacrifice their academic freedom to the interests of income generation and conformity to narrowly instrumental government policies.

Congress welcomes the recommendations of the recently published report on Scottish higher education governance and congratulates UCU Scotland on its influencing of the review.  Especially noteworthy is the centralisation of the concept of democratic intellect and collegiality in advancing university governance.  The recommendations include clear guidelines for increased staff involvement in university governance.

Congress commends the input of former UCU Scotland president, Terry Brotherstone, to the Review panel and commends Scottish branches for their detailed and considered response to the consultation.

Congress instructs the NEC to:

  1. help ensure that the report is implemented in Scotland and support Scottish branches to put pressure on local management to use this report to address issues of poor governance
  2. use the report as a basis to improve democracy in further and higher education institutions across the UK and organise a seminar to disseminate the recommendations
  3. campaign vigorously for the principles of good governance, staff and union representation, professional autonomy and academic freedom
  4. publicise failures of inclusive governance and campaign to raise public awareness of such a democratic deficit
  5. investigate organising training sessions for potential governors.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

9A.1 LSE

Add new 3rd paragraph

Congress condemns the increasing tendency of those higher in the hierarchy to assume they have sufficient knowledge to instruct professionals on the direction of their research and pedagogy and to reward themselves generously for this assumption.

Add new point 5 and renumber:

5. publicise research that investigates the benefits of collegiality in generating high quality and innovative research and teaching

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the reduction of staff and union participation in the internal governance of institutions in further and higher education, making it increasingly remote from members and ordinary staff. In addition, decision-making is increasingly opaque and unaccountable and contrary to good equality practice. This is part of the corrosive managerialism of our institutions, supported and encouraged by government policies imposing competition, commercialism and marketisation on our education service.

Congress believes that this trend not only decreases the accountability of institutions and their managers to the communities that they serve, but is also part of the erosion of the professional autonomy of our members and threatens to sacrifice their academic freedom to the interests of income generation and conformity to narrowly instrumental government policies.

Congress condemns the increasing tendency of those higher in the hierarchy to assume they have sufficient knowledge to instruct professionals on the direction of their research and pedagogy and to reward themselves generously for this assumption.

Congress welcomes the recommendations of the recently published report on Scottish higher education governance and congratulates UCU Scotland on its influencing of the review.  Especially noteworthy is the centralisation of the concept of democratic intellect and collegiality in advancing university governance.  The recommendations include clear guidelines for increased staff involvement in university governance.

Congress commends the input of former UCU Scotland president, Terry Brotherstone, to the Review panel and commends Scottish branches for their detailed and considered response to the consultation.

Congress instructs the NEC to:

  1. help ensure that the report is implemented in Scotland and support Scottish branches to put pressure on local management to use this report to address issues of poor governance
  2. use the report as a basis to improve democracy in further and higher education institutions across the UK and organise a seminar to disseminate the recommendations
  3. campaign vigorously for the principles of good governance, staff and union representation, professional autonomy and academic freedom
  4. publicise failures of inclusive governance and campaign to raise public awareness of such a democratic deficit
  5. publicise research that investigates the benefits of collegiality in generating high quality and innovative research and teaching
  6. investigate organising training sessions for potential governors.

L3 Defend academic statutes at UCL - University College London

Congress notes

  1. That UCL management is attempting to remove all procedures protecting academic freedom from its Statutes;
  2. Other universities that have done this (including Imperial, Kings, QMUL) have subsequently attempted mass academic redundancies;
  3. New motivation for 'reform' includes financial uncertainty from tuition fee markets and Government cuts;
  4. That UCL Management wish to rubber-stamp their proposal on 1 October but UCL Academic Board has called for an extended debate.

Congress believes

  1. That such 'reforms' must be opposed as an attack on scientific independence of research and a critically-educated public, in addition to an assault on staff;
  2. That University managements are seeking the right to restructure at will.

Congress resolves

  1. To ensure UCLUCU branch is fully supported by the National Executive Committee;
  2. To ensure that UCLUCU is fully supported in an industrial dispute as a 'local dispute of national importance'.

CARRIED


10 Academic freedom and the cost of academic journals - University of Essex

Congress notes with concern that the British Library is cancelling some journal subscriptions 'due to budget cuts', and that Harvard University considers that the current costs of major journals is 'financially untenable.'

Congress considers that over-priced academic publications coupled with financial austerity have a profound and negative effect on academic freedom and the open exchange of knowledge on which it relies. Congress therefore commends

  1. Harvard for encouraging students, staff and its library to take actions to challenge the control of academic publishers and encourages British Universities to adopt a similar course
  2. The Government's commitment to 'public access to publicly-funded research results' and the role of Jimmy Wales in helping achieve this.

Congress instructs NEC to monitor and support these and other initiatives that reduce the cost of access to academic information and the power exercised by academic publishers over it.

CARRIED


11 Defending academic and trade union freedom - Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee

Congress notes the growing tendency of universities and colleges to take a harsh disciplinary approach both to students involved in protests against education cuts and to staff who speak out critically about the privatisation and marketisation of education.

Congress condemns these threats to academic and trade union freedom.

Congress resolves to resist the growing corporate culture which challenges the right to exercise academic freedom and independent pedagogical judgement.

Congress defends the rights of students, staff and union representatives to speak freely to the press about developments in education without fear of disciplinary action for bringing the institution into disrepute.

Congress sends its solidarity to all union representatives under threat of victimisation for exercising democratic rights of speaking to the press and representing union members.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

11A.1 South East regional committee

Add to last paragraph:

'and instructs UCU to prioritise the defence of all UCU representatives by:
(i) collecting and analysing the existing cases of victimisation over the last two academic years including the UCU response at Branch, Regional and National level and the outcome;
(ii) taking legal action for those cases where such action is appropriate;
(iii) prioritising all future UCU representative victimisation cases to ensure that victimised representatives receive UCU's full support at the earliest opportunity'.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the growing tendency of universities and colleges to take a harsh disciplinary approach both to students involved in protests against education cuts and to staff who speak out critically about the privatisation and marketisation of education.

Congress condemns these threats to academic and trade union freedom.

Congress resolves to resist the growing corporate culture which challenges the right to exercise academic freedom and independent pedagogical judgement.

Congress defends the rights of students, staff and union representatives to speak freely to the press about developments in education without fear of disciplinary action for bringing the institution into disrepute.

Congress sends its solidarity to all union representatives under threat of victimisation for exercising democratic rights of speaking to the press and representing union members and instructs UCU to prioritise the defence of all UCU representatives by:

  1. collecting and analysing the existing cases of victimisation over the last two academic years including the UCU response at Branch, Regional and National level and the outcome;
  2. taking legal action for those cases where such action is appropriate;
  3. prioritising all future UCU representative victimisation cases to ensure that victimised representatives receive UCU's full support at the earliest opportunity

12 Representation on university and college remuneration committees - University of Bath

Congress believes that given recent disquiet about boardroom pay and the Prime Minister's suggestion that shareholders should have greater powers to enforce their views on the remuneration of directors and CEOs, it is time for the employee voice to be heard on university and college remuneration committees.

Congress therefore instructs the NEC to:

  1. negotiate with the employers through the national bargaining machinery for employee representatives to be included on all such committees;
  2. provide employee representatives with the appropriate negotiation skills training to enable them to fully participate in such committees; and
  3. agree a national UCU position and work with and empower those committees to ensure that the total pay package of Vice Chancellors and Principals is no more than ten times the multiple of the lowest paid worker in an institution.

CARRIED


Higher education in further education (report paragraph 5.1)

13 HE in FE - South East regional committee

Congress notes:

  1. substantial HE provision in FE colleges (including teacher education), providing access for the excluded
  2. colleagues delivering HE in FE rarely have academic contracts
  3. FE institutions are often inadequately resourced
  4. fee differentiation and planned deregulation encourage HE in FE on the cheap.

Congress believes:

  1. expansion of HE in FE should not be at the cost of the quality of provision;
  2. wholesale out-sourcing of first year provision is anti-educational, and misunderstands effective pedagogy for undergraduate learning.

Congress resolves HEC and FEC will produce:

  1. a strategy for renegotiation of contracts by FE Branches ensuring proportional academic contracts (post-92 national contract - teaching hours, scholarly activity);
  2. guidelines for staff who plan or validate FE degree programmes, or are involved in quality control or examining, to ensure comparability of provision;
  3. branches will be advised and prepared (educational rationale and industrial strategy) to respond to proposed changes to out-sourced provision.

CARRIED


Teacher education and training (report paragraph 6.1)

14 Composite: Teacher education and training National Executive Committee - North West regional committee

Congress notes the importance of access to high quality initial training and CPD for all teachers across all sectors of education.

Congress therefore condemns the government's attack on the role of higher education in the training of schoolteachers and the draconian cuts in the allocation of student places to many departments of education. Congress notes that Gove's plans to move teacher education almost exclusively to training schools and the reforms in LLS are threats not only to jobs but to the future of education, teaching and research.

The delivery of teacher training through partnership between schools and universities has been an outstanding success. The current attack is part of the government's ideologically driven dismantling of our public education system in favour of academies, free schools and university technical colleges, an attempt to further exercise government control over education, and a threat to academic and professional freedom of teachers both pre- and post-16. It is part of the government's privatisation agenda. The transfer of responsibility for teacher training to schools sacrifices the research, scholarship and wide experience of learning that university staff bring to teachers, leading to a narrowing of the training experience and the knowledge and skills needed by teachers.

Congress believes that we must form alliances with teaching unions to resist these destructive changes. Congress calls upon the NEC to develop joint campaigns with schoolteachers' unions including the NUT and others, against these policies and in defence of the provision of ITE, and to energetically defend UCU members' rights to academic freedom.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

14A.1 North West regional committee

Add to end:

'Congress calls on NEC to call a national conference on teacher education in the autumn, and to approach the teaching unions and student bodies for collaboration.'

CARRIED

14A.2 Brooklands College

Add ', colleges' between 'schools' and 'and universities' in line 1 of current paragraph 3.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the importance of access to high quality initial training and CPD for all teachers across all sectors of education.

Congress therefore condemns the government's attack on the role of higher education in the training of schoolteachers and the draconian cuts in the allocation of student places to many departments of education. Congress notes that Gove's plans to move teacher education almost exclusively to training schools and the reforms in LLS are threats not only to jobs but to the future of education, teaching and research.

The delivery of teacher training through partnership between schools, colleges and universities has been an outstanding success. The current attack is part of the government's ideologically driven dismantling of our public education system in favour of academies, free schools and university technical colleges, an attempt to further exercise government control over education, and a threat to academic and professional freedom of teachers both pre- and post-16. It is part of the government's privatisation agenda. The transfer of responsibility for teacher training to schools sacrifices the research, scholarship and wide experience of learning that university staff bring to teachers, leading to a narrowing of the training experience and the knowledge and skills needed by teachers.

Congress believes that we must form alliances with teaching unions to resist these destructive changes. Congress calls upon the NEC to develop joint campaigns with schoolteachers' unions including the NUT and others, against these policies and in defence of the provision of ITE, and to energetically defend UCU members' rights to academic freedom.

Congress calls on NEC to call a national conference on teacher education in the autumn, and to approach the teaching unions and student bodies for collaboration.


Professionalism (report paragraph 7.1)

15 Attacks on professional staff - Academic-related staff committee

Congress is deeply concerned about the attacks on academic-related and support staff jobs in many universities and colleges, resulting in the loss of expertise through outsourcing, deprofessionalisation of existing staff, career path destruction and shoddy sharing of services.

This has resulted in a poor, inadequate and unprofessional provision for students, lecturers and researchers across both sectors. These cuts have a chronic effect on the health of staff who are expected to continue to maintain standards with inadequate staffing and resources.

Congress calls on NEC to acknowledge support staff members in FE and build links with sister unions to fight attacks on services, to work with all affected members via all committees to defend jobs and the high standards UCU members are striving to maintain, to ensure employers fulfil their duty of care to staff under attack and to those staff left picking up the pieces when the damage is done.

CARRIED

Last updated: 9 June 2012