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UCU president's outlines challenges to UK HE at major international conference

3 November 2012 | last updated: 29 October 2015

UCU president Kathy Taylor outlined the three main challenges to higher education in the UK and the ways in which UCU has sought to defend the academic profession.

At the Education International's 8th Higher Education and Research Conference, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 25-27 September 2012, Kathy Taylor, UCU's president, outlined the three main challenges currently facing higher education in the UK. These are that:

  • the government's drive to reduce public spending means that less direct public funding is available for higher education and research
  • the UK government's attack on pay and conditions generally, and those of public sector workers in particular, is putting pressure on academic pay, pensions and job security
  • the ethos and values that underpin higher education and research are under attack from privatisation and marketisation.

Action taken to defend the academic profession by UCU has included:  

  • industrial action
  • working with other trade unions and education partners
  • organising demonstrations
  • fighting a high profile political and media campaign
  • launching a public-awareness campaign on the need for greater investment in higher education in the UK
  • promoting alternatives to neo-liberalism and austerity.

The Vandals at the Gate: Defending the profession in an age of austerity—the view from the UK, Kathy Taylor President, UCU [64kb]