In the news: 8 April 2016

College merger 'rush' exposed

New analysis by FE Week this week showed that up 28 colleges are considering or have confirmed plans for mergers. Commenting on the findings, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said that merger proposals were 'not a surprise' in the context of area reviews and massive funding cuts, but emphasised that 'thorough and meaningful consultation with unions, students and the wider community' was required for each proposal. She added: 'UCU will work hard both to protect our members' jobs and defend local educational opportunities where mergers put them at risk.'

Committee report highlights funding gap between further and higher education

UCU welcomed the House of Lords Social Mobility Committee's report on transitions from school to learning and employment, covered widely in the press, which highlighted the huge disparity in funding between academic and vocational education. Responding to the report, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said that government needs to 'put its money where its mouth is on vocational education - while apprenticeships continue to attract less than half the funding of university degrees, they will never be valued equally by students, parents or employers.'

The report also highlighted the need for better careers advice in schools, something which UCU said was vital to help students 'make well-informed choices about their future learning and employment to achieve their aspirations.'

Salford City College to axe 30 jobs in new cuts round

Salford City College has announced that 30 jobs will be cut in a new round of cuts, citing reducing student numbers and a need to 'reduce duplication' in job roles. Regional official Martyn Moss criticised the timing of the consultation, launched during the Easter break, and told Manchester Evening News that the union would 'work with Salford City College to ensure that students in the area still have the opportunities they need to try and get on - the last thing they need is job cuts and course closures at their local college.'

Prevent duty back in the spotlight

Metro put a focus back onto the government's Prevent duty this week, reporting that professors are being forced to spy on their students. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt told the Metro that 'Prevent, and the government's approach to fighting extremism, risks stifling our right to question and challenge ideas with which we disagree. We do not believe that draconian crackdowns on the rights to debate controversial issues will achieve the ends the government says it seeks. Universities and colleges rightly cherish, and must continue to promote, academic freedom as a key tenet of our civilised society.'

Racist bullying 'trivialised', academics say

Research conducted with 65 BME academics has indicated that racist bullying is commonplace, but is often trivialised by university managers, according to a report in Times Higher Education. The piece referenced UCU's recent survey on workplace racism, in which 69% of respondents had been subject to bullying and harassment by colleagues, and 72% reported they had been bullied by managers.


Last updated: 8 April 2016