Universities

Stop these university cuts!

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 10:13
Author

Cathy Nugent

As the UCU prepares for another round of strike action, and a further 14 universities vote to take part, more universities face potentially devastating cuts.

While there is a £1 billion surplus across higher education, those resources are unevenly distributed and over the last few years many universities have faced cuts.

Recently the University of Sunderland said it will close its history, politics and language courses, in line with a policy that all subjects need to be “financially sustainable”.

SOAS University of London has curtailed research leave and sacked its non-permanent academic staff

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2020 - 08:33
Author

Ollie Moore and Darren Bedford

Although the action is yet to be announced, the next round of the university and college union (UCU) dispute appears set for the second half of February.

Where strike ballots exist, they are either related to action defending the USS pension scheme, or over casualisation, pay, workloads and equalities (the “four fights”), however in most universities live ballots exist for both disputes simultaneously. A further 37 branches are currently being re-balloted, which alongside the live 98, would significantly enhance the strike’s impact, which in November and December saw thousands of UCU members

Tories: prepare the fightback!

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 11:42
Author

Editorial

Boris Johnson has talked of ending austerity, bolstering public services and appealing to the working class, but on all the evidence so far that is a threadbare velvet glove on an iron hand.

NHS spending is set to increase, but by nothing anywhere near what is needed to fill the shortfall from its 2010-20 cuts. The tide of privatisation will continue to roll forward.

The NHS is probably the best protected part of the public sector. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates that by 2024, non-NHS spending will be 14% lower than in 2010.

The provisional local government funding settlement

New university strikes from 20 February

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 09:01

A sectoral conference for University and College Union (UCU) members working in universities in the USS pension scheme, where workers struck in November and December, has voted for an escalation of the strike, passing a proposal to strike for two weeks from 20 February.

The Higher Education Committee of the union will now ratify that proposal.

That does leave a big gap between the end of the last strike and the next, but many universities have exams through January, so striking then wouldn’t have any impact on teaching. Negotiations are ongoing; the fact of a further planned strike will

University workers strike, students occupy in solidarity

Published on: Wed, 04/12/2019 - 16:09

University workers strike

By Ollie Moore

The strikes by higher education workers in the University and College Union (UCU) around pensions, pay, and workload, running from 25 November to 4 December, have seen significant student support.

A UCU striker in Cambridge sent this report of picketing at his university to Solidarity:

“There was a much noisier response from the road traffic today [27 November] where the West Cambridge picket is based. Possibly a sign that locally the news that a major strike is going on has got through.

“It genuinely also felt like fewer people were crossing our picket

UCU Strike Bulletin: Build the rank and file! (November 2019)

Published on: Mon, 02/12/2019 - 16:02
Author

AWL members in the University and College Union

Click here to download this bulletin as a PDF. This was modified slightly after the climate strike - download the old one here.

Build the rank and file!

The election of Jo Grady as UCU General Secretary earlier this year was a big step forward for the union.

The previous leadership had a record of compromising too soon in disputes and had never delivered the support for workplace organising needed to change the power balance in universities. Electing officials and NEC members committed to a more combative approach to organising is important, but it’s not sufficient, or an end in itself.

In

Strikes at Virgin, West Midlands, South Western Railway

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 07:39
Author

Ollie Moore and Jay Dawkey

Rail union RMT has called strikes on Virgin Trains, West Midlands Trains, and South Western Railway (SWR).

On the latter, the union has named a calendar of strikes throughout November and December, which will see walkouts on 16, 23, and 30 November, and 7, 14, 21, and 28 December. West Midlands Trains is the latest Train Operating Company to see its workers plan industrial action over the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO).

On Virgin Trains, train managers, a grade of customer-facing train crew, on the West Coast franchise will strike on 19 November to demand the reinstatement of an

How debt crushes education

Published on: Wed, 09/10/2019 - 10:31
Author

Natalia Cassidy

For many Americans, choices about higher education come with stark consequences in terms of the levels of debt for students and their families will have to take on.

The UK student debt system appears relatively benign in comparison. The levels of repayment are significantly lower than in the USA, the debt repayment threshold much higher.

In the UK, methods of financing are, for the most part, centralised through the state, whereas in the USA a lot of student debt is to private lenders. University fees in the USA are largely unregulated, and have risen sharply, including at public universities.

How Labour should end austerity

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 07:31
Author

Chris Reynolds

Since 2010 austerity has ground down working-class living standards for the benefit of the ultra-rich. Life has been made meaner and more insecure.

Boris Johnson now says he will end austerity. But that is all a matter of previously-budgeted money being “recycled” and called expansion, and random promises to try to win a general election after which he will be free to do his right-wing worst for five years.

The NHS and social care have been squeezed so that waiting lists expand and A&E wait times explode. Hospitals routinely run at the upper limit of capacity, so that an epidemic, or an

Markets, cuts, and education

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:59
Author

Maisie Sanders

The Augar review into post-18 education and funding, commissioned by Theresa May last year, was released on 30 May.

As yet the government says only that it will “take very seriously the report’s proposals”. The report presents its aim as a more “accessible” system of higher and further education that provides “value for money” for both students and taxpayers and is more responsive to labour market demands.

University student numbers have continued to increase steadily since 2009-10, but there has been a sharp decline in students choosing higher-level technical qualifications (Level 4 and 5,

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