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UCU wins award for its campaigning work

8 July 2015 | last updated: 10 December 2015

UCU last night won the coveted best campaign award at the TUC/Warners Trade Union Communications Awards.

The union picked up the gong for its work in fighting against the 'Prevent duty' introduced as part of the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act.

The union led the campaign against the legislation which it said would damage the relationship between staff and students, curtail academic freedom and create an atmosphere of mistrust on campus.

Through the use of legal advice, sector experts and the lobbying of MPs and peers, the union received high profile media coverage and the support from different sides of the political spectrum. The government acknowledged the strength of feeling, amended the legislation and added a new 'freedom of expression' clause, ensuring that colleges and universities must consider legal freedom of speech obligations when complying with any new duties to tackle terrorism. In the end UCU helped win an important amendment to the Act which meant that universities and colleges implementing the Prevent duty must continue to pay particular regard to academic freedom.

The judging panel, which included legendary campaigner and former cabinet minister Peter Hain and Daily Mirror journalist Ros Wynne Jones, praised the 'excellent parliamentary campaign' and said; 'This interesting and successful campaign impressed the judges with its clear objectives and strategies to achieve them. With only a small budget there were some impressive media hits.'

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'It is always nice to be recognised for the union's fantastic campaigning work, not least since a lot of the work the team do is behind the scenes and can sometimes go unnoticed. As the judges said this was an excellent campaign that gained cross party support in parliament as well as widespread media coverage. Despite our efforts, the Prevent duty remains a great risk to academic freedom and will cause untold damage to the relationship between staff and students. We therefore take this award as a signal to redouble our efforts to campaign against its implementation at institution level.'