Protests and lobby of MPs in fight for college funding

17 October 2018

UCU members will be marching through central London today demanding better funding and fair pay for further education colleges. They will be joined by their students, fellow trade unionists and college principals in an unprecedented show of unity across the sector*.

Protestors will gather in Waterloo Place from 12:15pm before setting off at 12:45pm and heading down Whitehall through the heart of government to a 1:30pm rally in Parliament Square.

Speakers at the rally include the union's president Vicky Knight and head of further education Andrew Harden. Other confirmed speakers^ include Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, National Union of Students president Shakira Martin and Liberal Democrat and Green party MPs.

Following the rally, the protestors will head into the House of Commons to lobby their MPs and make the case for better funding for colleges. The march, rally and lobby come as new research revealed that over half (58%) of UK small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) fear the country risks being "left behind" if the Government doesn't address skills gaps through education.

The research, by the Association of Colleges, showed that 51% of SMEs are finding it more difficult to find employees with the right skills compared to five years ago. The SMEs polled said it was colleges (48%) who were best placed to provide the skills for the future workforce, compared to universities (30%) and schools (21%). 

UCU head of further education Andrew Harden said: 'Colleges specialise in helping those who are often hardest for schools and universities to reach. They are remarkable places which transform lives and, given the chance, could transform our country too.

'Without urgent investment in our colleges and their staff, the government risks squandering the potential of millions of people. Skills are absolutely crucial to the UK's economic success but right now our further education sector is fighting for its life. That is why we are taking our message to the heart of government today.'


* The action is being supported by UCU, UNISON, the National Education Union, Unite, GMB, the National Union of Students, the Association of Colleges, the Association of School and College Lecturers and the TUC.

^ Confirmed speakers: 
- Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party
- Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary 
- Andrew Harden, UCU head of further education
- Shakira Martin, NUS president 
- Caroline Lucas, Green party MP for Brighton Pavilion 
- Jon Richards, UNISON head of education 
- David Hughes, Association of Colleges chief executive 
- Gordon Marsden, shadow further education minister
- Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary
- Kevin Rowan, TUC head of organisation, services and skills 
- Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson

Last updated: 24 October 2018