Defend Higher Education

5 Unions 1 Demand

We call for a national agreement to protect jobs in higher education, and we call on university employers to mandate the Universities and Colleges Employers Association to seek an agreement with the unions in the interests of our economy and our communities.

The crisis in education

The five trade unions that represent higher education staff have joined forces because we believe that there is a crisis in higher education and it is deepening with every passing month. The government has targeted higher education for funding cuts and attacks on research. Vice chancellors have seized the chance to reshape their workforces by slashing jobs and eroding the value of pay, while enjoying significant pay increase themselves. Thousands of jobs may be at risk over the next few years. At a time when other countries are investing in education, our government is forcing higher education employers to undermine our universities. Tens of thousands of young people will be shut out; hacking at the roots of future prosperity. We believe this is economic folly and a betrayal of current and future generations in our hard-hit communities.

What we want

Our aims are modest.  We want the sector to unite behind a broad campaign, bringing together universities, staff and students, to defend higher education. We want a national agreement with the employers that commits universities to defending jobs, protecting the value of our pay and providing greater security for the most vulnerable workers in our sector.

See the joint national claim 2009/10 for more information.

What the employers are saying

UCEA, the national body that negotiates for universities, last year made a pay offer that cut staff pay in real terms and has refused to negotiate a national job security agreement with us. The results are easy to see. Some senior managers are acting in their own interests; sacrificing the public interest in a broad-based higher education sector. There is rising frustration among higher education staff and students. Our sector is in turmoil, with unions and students across the country fighting local battles to defend higher education provision against savage cuts.

Support the campaign to defend higher education

A national agreement to defend jobs and pay would form the basis of a united defence of higher education. We believe that a genuine partnership is in the interests of the staff and students, communities and prosperity alike. Our sector can play a critical role in mitigating the effects of recession, creating the conditions of future prosperity and providing all in our communities with access to the opportunity to learn.

To support the campaign sign the joint unions’ national petition and join your union.


Pay rates for all staff covered by the HE national agreement were increased from 1 August 2009 by 0.5%.

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