12 June 2020
UCU launches campaign with message to prime minister that universities and colleges desperately need a clear and coherent plan from government if the UK is to avoid losing educational capacity at a time when it will be needed most
In a letter to Boris Johnson to launch the union’s ‘Fund the Future’ campaign, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the government’s limited actions so far had failed to meet the challenges further and higher education face.
The union said the government needed to provide financial guarantees to stop thousands of teachers, researchers and professional support staff losing their jobs at a time when education would be needed to drive the recovery from the pandemic.
As well as writing to the Prime Minister, the union is urging its members and the public to use the new campaign website to contact their local MP to make the case for more funding and support. UCU has also launched a new campaign video today and the union’s general secretary Jo Grady is hosting a live Facebook Q&A event at 1pm.
A report for UCU by London Economics in April warned that universities faced a £2.5bn funding black hole due to lost income from student tuition fees and teaching grants. The report warned that, without government intervention, the country faced a total shortfall of £6bn from the reduced economic activity generated by universities with 60,000 jobs at risk.
A poll released last week showed that students shared the union’s concerns about what the impact of Covid-19 might mean for universities and education. Almost a quarter (23%) of the prospective students polled were worried their university might go bust as a result of the crisis and half (49%) feared their education would suffer as a result of cuts linked to Covid-19.
Further education colleges in England warned last month that over £2 billion of their income for the next academic year was uncertain, and they were worried they would not have the resources and capacity needed to support students.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Universities and colleges are a crucial part of the economic and social fabric of the UK and should be central to our recovery from the damage done by the Covid-19 crisis. The government’s limited actions so far have not come close to meeting the challenges further and higher education face.
‘Universities have already started cutting jobs and will keep trying to do so as the uncertainty persists, with huge repercussions for industrial relations and local economies that depend on higher education.
‘We now desperately need a clear and coherent plan from the government that guarantees funding and jobs to protect our academic capacity. The country cannot afford to push tens of thousands of teachers, researchers, and education professionals into unemployment at a time when we will need education to be a key driver of recovery.
‘Our “Fund the Future” campaign will demonstrate the importance of education and make the case for investment in our colleges and universities to politicians across the political divide. We have to ensure that education is given the support it needs to lead our recovery from this crisis.’