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Fund the future

Fund the Future update for members

10 August 2020 | last updated: 18 August 2020

This is a big week for higher education, as exam results are published in Wales, Northern Ireland and England (following Scotland last week) and universities scramble to get domestic students through clearing.

This is a big week for higher education, as exam results are published in Wales, Northern Ireland and England (following Scotland last week) and universities scramble to get domestic students through clearing. At the same time, we still don't know how many international students will take up places in the UK this year. Employers are using that uncertainty as a pretext to impose cuts when a government funding guarantee would give them nowhere to hide.

Keep using our tools to contact your MP - it only takes a minute of your time but combined with everything else UCU branches and offices are doing, it makes a big difference in putting this at the top of the government's agenda. We would not have won the recent funding package from the Welsh government without this kind of pressure - and now we need to make Westminster follow suit.

Meanwhile, I'm hosting an event with special guests on Thursday, 6pm - 7pm, to discuss what we need to do to protect ourselves and our colleagues from redundancies, escalating workloads, and unsafe workplaces as we gear up for the autumn term. Please click here for more information about the event.

I've also been joining branch meetings since the crisis started to hear from members about what's happening in their workplaces and discuss our campaign. If your branch hasn't heard from me, ask them to get in touch.

I will be meeting with the union's anti-casualisation committee to discuss with them the steps were are taking to protect our precarious members. You can read my report here. [195kb]

Our case for government support

We've spent weeks building a public consensus for underwriting the whole sector. Our polling shows that voters in key constituencies understand how much universities matter and how much their local area benefits from them. Our local economic analysis of different parts of the UK highlights just how many jobs in any given area depend on the local university. We're using the work we've done to put political pressure on MPs in marginal seats to throw their weight behind us.

We are making the case for financial support for the whole sector: for arts, humanities, and social sciences as well as STEM; for small, specialised institutions with distinctive missions; for post-92s that do invaluable work widening participation to disadvantaged students. 

Beating redundancies

Some employers are waiting to see what happens to student recruitment rather than making drastic decisions, but others are not. Redundancy consultations and other attacks on staff are taking place all over the country and a number of branches are entering into disputes.

We are backing every branch that does this with all the resources we have, to help them with legal advice, winning the financial argument for supporting staff, maximising turnout in ballots, and learning as much as possible from other branches in similar positions. A lot of the hard work is happening behind the scenes, but you can look visit our Fund The Future events pages and Covid-19 branch guidance to get a sense of what is going on.

UCU has a great record of beating compulsory redundancies and winning local contract disputes all over the UK and across our sectors, and we will be drawing on all of that experience in the coming year.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

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