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In the news: 30 September

Sally Hunt calls for halt to government's higher education reforms

Writing in the Guardian letters page in response to an editorial on the government's plans for higher education, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt has repeated UCU's call for the Higher Education and Research Bill to be halted. She echoed concerns set out by Dame Alison Wolf that the bill would allow for-profit providers to have greater access to the sector, potentially leading to an 'American-style catastrophe'.

The letter goes on to say that a focus on competition would lead to money being diverted into 'cosmetic improvements and gimmicks rather than front-line delivery' and that opening up the sector to private providers is 'at odds with the primacy of academic quality and the protection of students' interests'


Coventry University slammed for shameful employment practices

Coventry University was condemned on Tuesday for its shameful employment practices as it emerged that staff are being moved around a network of subsidiary companies and employed as agency workers to avoid having to deal with trade unions or give staff a fair deal.

The Guardian set out in detail how the university owns a series of companies which it uses to employ its staff, all of which have refused to recognise UCU to represent their staff. Following a long battle to achieve UCU recognition at one of the subsidiary companies, CU Services Ltd., a group of staff employed at the company have now been sacked with plans to re-engage them as agency workers through a different university subsidiaries, TheFutureWorks Ltd.

As reported in the Coventry Observer and Coventry Telegraph, UCU has written to Coventry University condemning the actions of its subsidiary company CU Services Ltd and calling for it to take action, as well as launching a petition urging the vice chancellor to intervene.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt condemned the way staff were being treated as a 'shameful episode' and described the actions of Coventry University's subsidiary company as 'an embarrassment to the sector.' She added, 'Coventry University needs to stop hiding behind the so-called autonomy of its companies and start to constructively engage with UCU at all its education subsidiaries.'


UCU responds to Diamond Review on education funding in Wales

Professor Sir Ian Diamond published his long awaited Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance Arrangements in Wales this week, which outlined improvements to maintenance grants and more support for part time study alongside plans to raise tuition fees.

Responding to the proposals, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt said: 'We are pleased that the Diamond Review has called for improvements to maintenance support and welcome the proposed £1,000 non-means tested maintenance grant for all full time Welsh domiciled undergraduates along with an income related maintenance grant. It is however a shame that fees are likely to rise and result in increased debts for students on graduating.'


MP pledges support to 140 staff facing redundancy at Hull College

UCU's fight against redundancies at Hull College received a boost today as local MP Karl Turner pledged to meet with UCU to discuss how to fight the cuts. As reported in FE week, UCU is currently balloting members over the redundancies which will result in up to 60 lecturers losing their jobs and see all three college nurseries closed. Jobs will also go in essential services including the library, learning support and IT. The ballot closes today.

Last updated: 30 September 2016