Cuts in education services

Funding cuts have led to courses being closed, redundancies in schools, colleges and universities and a worse education for children and young people.

UNISON wants to see proper resources for a world-class education system.

Tough times

In these tough times, the need for education and training has never been greater.

Yet from early years services like Sure Start children’s centres, through schools, further education, careers services, to higher education and lifelong learning, government cuts are having a devastating effect on staff and students in England and Wales.


Different parts of education policy are devolved: Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own education systems, while policy in Wales differs in certain respects from England.

But staff and students throughout the UK face similar issues.

We have seen thousands of redundancies in education and early years.

Colleges have cut the number of courses, while fewer students are admitted and those who do go are increasingly squeezed due to tuition fees and cuts to allowances in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In your workplace


Despite government pledges that schools will be protected from cuts, some school support staff are facing redundancy as headteachers struggle to balance their books. These cuts are hitting a wide range of staff, from school crossing patrols through to teaching assistants. Cuts hit the quality of education and put vulnerable children at risk.

Higher education

It is a similar story in higher education. The Westminster government has slashed the teaching grant to universities and replaced it with fees of up to £9,000. While Scottish students at Scottish universities pay no tuition fees, these universities can charge students from England up to £9,000 a year. UNISON believes in free higher education – not based on ability to pay – where everyone has the opportunity to attend. Support staff, who are often the first point of contact, are spending more time dealing with complaints and less on supporting education.

Further education

College staff are on the frontline – helping people re-skill and retrain to get back in to work – yet a wave of job losses has swept through further education as colleges are pressured into ever fiercer competition for funding and students. Cuts have also meant reductions in sick pay and other terms and conditions. By abolishing the education maintenance allowance in England – a key tool for improving access to further education – Westminster is recreating elitist tertiary education where only those who can afford it get it.

Careers service

Thousands of jobs have been cut from the careers service, with services now provided by an assortment of different organisations.

Tens of thousands of young people now have no access to face-to-face careers guidance, just when the bleak jobs market means they need it most.

Meanwhile, the government has transferred careers guidance to schools – but without the funding or skilled professionals the service needs.

Children’s services

Cuts have led to the closure of Sure Start children’s centres which provide a lifeline for many families in these difficult times. It is vital that we keep these centres open.

UNISON believes investing in education is good for all our futures and there is an alternative to devastating cuts.

Other major European economies, such as France and Germany, are increasing investment in education.

We are urging the government to provide the resources to restore the high-quality education services that children and young people need.


Real stories

“My daughter was lucky enough to get to university before the government’s huge increase of tuition fees.

“My son isn’t going to be so lucky. He’s looking at having to find fees of £8-9,000 a year.

“It’s going to make him and thousands more of our brightest youngsters – who don’t come from wealthy families – think hard about whether it’s worth going into higher education at all.”

Chris Tansley, UNISON president

I am one of three library supervisors whose number will be reduced to just one

“It will mean a lot more work for the lucky person with the job. The students are bound to suffer. We have a full complement of students and people need people.

“Morale has never been lower. The university has caused great upset when there was absolutely no need.

“We are having to take pay cuts – when are senior management going to take theirs?”

Jane Corrigan, University of Bolton branch secretary