All out for USS

Sean Wallis (University College London)

Election address

I am a senior research fellow at UCL. I have been a researcher in AI and linguistics for 26 years: 6 in Nottingham and 20 at UCL.

Recent service
2013-present   Branch president, UCL UCU (currently VP)
2008-2015       HE secretary, London Region UCU
2013-               Member of NEC

I am asking you to vote for me because I have spent my career speaking up for research staff in Higher Education. Now I am even more concerned about the future of the University.

Every time I stood for national election, I argued the same point:

The basic idea of a University is under attack from a Government and a political class who fear a critical, independently-minded, University-educated populace. We need to respond by mobilising our own members: both in their own immediate interests, over pay and conditions, and in a wider defence of the University ideal.

The HE Green Paperis a roadmap for HE privatisation, allowing private companies to compete for tuition fee income (cf. direct competition with "state providers" in the NHS.)

An entire section of the Green Paper is dedicated to reducing the financial risks for corporations to enter - and exit - this potentially lucrative market. This explains why the Government pushed fees up to £9K - the price had to be right.

Staff and students will suffer. Speculative course expansion is cheap if staff have no employment rights. Teaching and student support faces a race to the bottom.

The Conservatives want to import the US For-Profit HE model. These corporations became notorious for mis-selling courses, offering poor-quality courses at high prices, and spending more on recruiters than teaching staff. But the Tories also want to use their "anything goes" business model to attack Universities' founding principles.

We can win. At UCL we fought off an attempt to rewrite our college Statutes. We turned an attack on academic staff rights into a debate about extending academic protection to researchers and others. But the Green Paper proposes removing the Privy Council protection that helped us protect our Statutes.

We have to unite the sector to oppose the Green Paper. We need to organise urgently. We must unite across the academic community and encourage the widest possible debate. Come to the Second Convention for HE (see for more information).

We also have to win an argument among the population: Universities are critically important for an educated society. Defending education means reversing Government cuts and dismantling fees. It means standing up ourselves, including fighting for our own pay.

I am a member of UCU Left, a hard-working branch vice president and a defender of research staff. Vote for me for a union that represents you and fights for you.

Last updated: 1 February 2016