Today, the government unveiled its White Paper on the future of higher and further education in England. The proposed changes will have a substantial impact on UCU members wherever they work. You can read more about the White Paper here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13927710
As we feared, the government's solution to the problems faced by our sector is to increase competition, both between colleges and universities and by encouraging private 'for profit' providers. This dangerous experiment will, if unchecked, undermine quality, and lead to course, department and even institution closures. UCU members will be at the sharp end of an unprecedented squeeze on costs as many institutions seek to compete with each other on price, while a growing for-profit sector will be a disaster for our education system.
In the USA, upon which the government has modelled its reforms, 'for-profit' education providers now receive almost one quarter of all public subsidies in the form of student grants and loans. This has led to widespread 'mis-selling' of qualifications and legislators are now seeking to rein in the for-profit sector.
In my speech to UCU's Congress last month, I asked for your help to build in building a credible alternative to the cocktail of cuts and privatisation favoured by the government. So far, in response, I have received in excess of 500 detailed submissions from UCU members. Thank you.
One of the clear messages you have sent is that UCU should stand up for the sector as a whole in defence of public education. I share that view. That’s why I am asking you to do two things to help the union today:
1. No confidence in the government:
In response to many requests from members, UCU has launched an online petition to express no-confidence in the education policies of this government. Please sign it here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/noconfidence and then share the link with all your colleagues whether they are in UCU or not.
2. Lobby your MP now:
We are also working hard to put pressure on the government in parliament itself. Please help us today by taking a couple of minutes to email your MP to urge them to sign a new early day motion against 'for profit' education. Click here to contact your MP: http://www.ucu.org.uk/notforprofit
I will write again to update you on our campaign shortly. Thank you, as ever, for your support.
UCU general secretary