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Union Learning Reps and CPD

22 February 2008

Union learning representatives (ULRs) are branch based representatives and are similar to health and safety representatives; but while health and safety representatives focus on health and safety issues, learning reps focus on members' personal and professional learning interests.

UCU training
Read more about UCU's reps training courses

If you are interested in becoming a ULR or would like to find our more about the role, please email

Find a more comprehensive rundown of the role here:

"The ULR cuts across all roles and issues in the union. It's a way to support the rest of your reps enhance their knowledge about union activities and possibility but it's also a way to materially strengthen your negotiators hands at the bargaining table. Equipped with the latest knowledge, strategies, and training on a plethora of issues negotiators can achieve more for their branches." 

What can a learning rep do?

  • Promote UCU's national CPD and union rep training offers 
  • With support form UCU's CPD team set up courses for local members and non-members
  • Develop local learning agreements

UCU learning reps offer assistance and expertise on including training and development in local collective bargaining agreements and can offer members individual advice and guidance on development issues. Developing a workplace Union Learning Agreement (ULA) is a key part of the role, as quality learning agreements and actively engaged union learning reps can not only deliver for our members but also increase member participation in UCU.

Example Union Learning Agreements

Gaining a Union Learning Agreement

UCU CPD programme

UCU's Continuing Professional Development programme is free and open to all members, with the following aims:

  • to deliver high quality Continued Professional Development in line with UCU's bargaining agenda for example, around climate sustainability, decolonising the curriculum and workforce casualisation
  • motivate and enthuse members attending CPD events to become more active in their local branches, collectively challenging issues whether they affect them directly or not
  • increase the number of reps going through UCU's formal reps training programme
  • ensure members understand the Union's current industrial aims through attendance on CPD courses.

The 90 minute online workshops are facilitated by experienced trade union tutors, nationally, regionally and in branches. The CPD team work closely with ULRs to support them in putting on workshops in their branches.

Watch as UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, explains why members should take part in the CPD Programme

Click for the Learning and Development Online Workshop Catalogue

''As an immigrant, I really appreciated the Tackling the Hostile Environment for Migrants workshops. That really helped me to feel as though my concerns mattered (I am an international worker on a Skilled Worker Visa)".

"Taught by expert, reflective and inspiring tutors, having attended all CPD provision, I cannot underscore enough how vital this learning and interaction has been in my personal transformation and development, now feeling empowered, knowledgeable and skilful as a negotiator and trade union activist!"

Learning rep rights

UCU learning reps can claim statutory time off to undertake their duties if they are trained. However this has to be negotiated with the institution's management. See:

Learning rep resources

To support our growing network of learning reps based in colleges, universities, adult and prison education branches we run learning reps courses throughout the year. Further details of training courses are available here.

In addition, UCU has produced a handbook for learning representatives as well as a model learning agreement:

We have also produced a couple of guides for getting employers to support CPD:


Learning Reps Networks

The CPD team hold regular informal meetings where learning reps can share experiences, best practice and network. This helps branch ULRs  not only test out ideas but also discuss and solve workplace issues.

Further resources


Last updated: 20 March 2024