The University and College Union (UCU) has become the latest education body to launch a pre-election manifesto, calling for all political parties to adopt a “positive agenda” towards further and higher education.
The 15-point document, published today, calls for an overhaul of careers education, robust minimum standards for apprenticeships and a “real choice” between academic and vocational pathways for 14 to 19-year-olds.
It says the current system of qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds encourages students to choose either a vocational or academic route, which can lead to certain options being closed off too early.
It calls on the government to work with providers to introduce 14 to 19 qualifications that allow students to choose a mix of academic and vocational.
The UCU is also pushing for stronger policies on zero-hours contracts and more transparency from college management.
It says at least 35 FE colleges employ more than 40 per cent of their academic staff casually, which “diminishes” both the student experience and the value of academic teaching.
Writing on the TES website today, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt says education will be a key issue in the run-up to the election, and “warm words” from politicians are not enough.
“Radical alternatives to the current system are needed and the next government must consider additional support to encourage retention of young people and personalised funding streams to support learners of all ages,” she writes.
“Cuts to public funding have been damaging and destabilising, leading to reduced job security for staff and a narrower offer for students.”
'Uphold our freedoms and give us fairer funding' say colleges - November 2014
Sixth form colleges demand end to 'damaging' changes to funding - November 2014