World hands

UCU's international work

UCU is committed to the principle of academic freedom in the global context and the protection of trade union rights and human rights. As the largest post school union in the world we believe we have a responsibility to nurture these twin principles in our engagements with international organisations, governments and our solidarity with fellow trade unions.

UCU plays a central part in shaping policy and action on behalf of academic and academic-related staff in Education International (EI) and the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), building on years of experience of working together on the international agenda by its predecessor unions.

We want to carry this work forward, and to build on the growing member interest in international issues, whether those which increasingly affect members' own work, or solidarity and human rights activities world-wide.

Contact Rob Copeland for further information.

Global dispatches

UCU has a strong tradition of taking up issues at international and European level where they affect members' professional lives, and also working with partner organisations on solidarity and international development issues identified by the membership through UCU's democratic structures.

Amnesty International

'I have boxes and boxes of appeals sent on our behalf by Urgent Action letter-writers ... I have no doubt those letters saved our lives': Colombian human rights defenders Astrid Manrique and Yolima Quintero.

Education International

UCU is a member of the global union federation Education International (EI), which represents over 30 million teachers, researchers and education workers worldwide, in 384 organisations in 169 countries and territories.


Recent developments have demonstrated the continual need for vigilance and advocacy at the European level too. To take three examples:


UCU is involved in campaigns at the global level to protect post-school education from the threat to 'liberalise' the sector and turn it into a profit-oriented, commodified industry. UCU cannot act alone on such an issue.

International Development

The trade union movement in the UK has increasingly become involved in issues relating to the developing world.


Through our contacts with the TUC, EI and other education unions UCU is able to join in campaigning work at international level on issues affecting human and trade union rights.