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In the news: 29 September 2017

29 September 2017

UCU at Labour Party conference

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt and president Joanna de Groot represented the union in Brighton this week at the Labour Party conference, meeting with MPs and peers and speaking at a variety of events. Sharing a panel with shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden MP and NUS president Shakira Martin at a fringe meeting organised by UCU, Sally called for big business to pay more towards the student's education. She also spoke to party members, students and university staff about staff conditions, student poverty and the problems around the marketisation of the education sector.

Labour launches charter for National Education Service

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner MP used her keynote conference speech to launch the next phase of the party's proposal around a National Education Service. 

The ten principles of the plan included proposals on staff professional development and training, as well as commitments to tackle excessive workload and support the 'emotional, social and physical well-being of students and staff'.

Responding to the charter, Sally Hunt said 'This draft charter is a great starting point for developing an alternative to our fragmented education system. It recognises that education is a public good and that cost should never be a barrier to participation in learning. It also gives welcome recognition to the fact that a high-quality education system relies on well-trained and well-supported staff. We look forward to engaging with Labour in the coming months to develop this vision for an education system which truly works for staff and students alike.'

Gender gap in university admissions widens again

Figures released by the Department for Education on Thursday revealed that young women are now 12% more likely to attend university than their male counterparts. Commenting on the figures, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt told the Morning Star that serious questions need to be asked about the support offered to young people. She pointed to UCU research which found that boys aged 13-17 tend to access fewer sources of careers advice than girls and are less likely to state that they want to go on to higher education straight after school, or later in life, and said: 'The government needs to look again at careers advice and student finance to ensure that young people are getting the best chance to fulfil their potential regardless of gender or background.'

Bradford College lecturer awarded damages for stress

A college lecturer has won £159,000 in damages in a personal injury stress case against Bradford College, having suffered depression and anxiety resulting from employer negligence.

UCU regional official, Julie Kelley, said: 'This case shows how important it is for colleges to follow procedures that are in place for dealing with workplace stress. Our member could so easily have been supported when she first raised her concerns in emails to the college but, as the judge found, those concerns were swept under the carpet and the net effect was very severe for her health.'


Last updated: 29 September 2017