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UCU says Universities UK's proposals to support universities do not go far enough

9 April 2020 | last updated: 21 April 2020

The union described the proposals from Universities UK as "piecemeal" and said they failed to recognise the scale of the problem.

UCU said in exchange for the type of substantial government support needed to protect higher education, universities had to step back from their usual dog-eat-dog approach and work collectively and collegiately in the wider interest.

Last week the union wrote to education secretary Gavin Williamson with seven proposals it said will ensure universities and colleges can retain academic capacity now and play their part in the recovery.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'This looks like a piecemeal approach that fails recognise the size of the problem, or the damage we risk doing to our academic capacity. We need a fundamental shift in how universities operate if we are to protect our institutions, staff and students, and to ensure higher education can play its vital role in the recovery.

'Instead of talking up mergers or narrowing the curriculum, universities need to step back from the dog-eat-dog approach of recent times and come together properly in the wider interest. We fear these proposals risk leaving many universities vulnerable at a time when we need the whole sector to be firing on all cylinders.

'The proposed cap will do nothing to stop Russell Group institutions hoovering up more students from the newer "post-92" universities. To rein this in, the government must provide proper underpinning for whole sector and insist on more effective cooperation from universities.'

'We wrote to the secretary of state last week setting out what government needs to do to retain academic capacity and ensure that education can be a driver of our recovery. We need a clear plan that protects jobs and institutions, and stops universities competing with each other when they should be working in the wider interest.'

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