Area reviews are a 'leap in the dark', Sally Hunt tells UCU congress

1st June 2016 at 13:29
Sally Hunt ucu congress area reviews
The University and College Union's general secretary also warns of low levels of recruitment among younger teachers in the FE and HE sectors

An "onslaught" of area-based reviews represents a "leap in the dark" for the FE sector, and threatens to rock the financial security of many FE colleges, according to University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Sally Hunt.

Ms Hunt was expected to tell the UCU annual congress in Liverpool today that she could not find any evidence to support the claim that area reviews would help colleges achieve financial sustainability, and that the government should place staff at the heart of its policy for further education.

"The area reviews programme represents a leap in the dark [and is] based on what evidence, exactly? [The] government says that only through mergers and campus closures will colleges achieve financial sustainability," she was due to tell delegates.

"Colleges and their staff really can’t win under a government that seems to have little understanding of what they do and why they are important to their communities. I believe that our central argument in the face of this onslaught must be a simple one. Governments who really want to improve quality in the lecture theatre, or who really want to strengthen our research base, should place staff at the centre of policy, not at its periphery."

‘The future will be written without us’

Ms Hunt also planned to raise concerns about the UCU's recruitment of younger teachers, saying that membership of staff under 30 years of age "isn’t sufficient", and that if the union fails  to recruit those at the start of their careers, "the future will be written without us".

"Sixty per cent of eligible staff over 50 are members of UCU, but this compares to just 10 per cent of eligible staff under 30 who are members," Ms Hunt will say in her speech. "We have some clever people in this room but you don’t need to be Stephen Hawking to realise that unless we can increase our recruitment of those at the start of their careers, the future will be written without us."

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