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Deeper cuts to further and higher education could cause serious damage

4 December 2014 | last updated: 10 December 2015

Projected cuts to public spending on post-school education in the next parliament could cause serious damage to further and higher education, UCU said today.

The union was responding to analysis from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) following yesterday's autumn statement, which estimates that the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will need to reduce their budgets by a total of around £9 billion by 2019-20.

UCU said that public funding for further and higher education had already been cut dramatically since 2010 and both sectors should not, and could not, simply be expected to do more for less. It said that the government needed to resist pressure to make deeper short-term savings in areas which would reduce the capacity to upskill and educate future generations. The union also called on all politicians to clearly set out their plans for post-school education ahead of the election.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The chancellor announced yesterday that there would be a further "sharp squeeze" on public spending in the next parliament. The government must resist the temptation to make short-term savings which would further compromise our capacity to improve the skills of future generations.'

'We have already seen budgets for adult skills and higher education taking more than their fair share of recent cuts. Further swingeing public spending reductions would inevitably compromise the ability of the sector to deliver the education and training upon which future economic growth depends. All political parties need to clearly set out their plans for education spending ahead of the election.'

The UCU manifesto calls on the next government to increase investment in post-school education and research to match global competitors.

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