UNISON urges government to support universities properly

Support package announced yesterday by government doesn’t offer any new funds


UNISON is calling on the government to provide meaningful support for higher education, as institutions face growing financial problems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many universities are already experiencing difficulties and the COVID-19 crisis means that they are likely to face a lot fewer student admissions in the autumn.

A recent study for the University and College Union estimated that universities face a potential loss of £2.5bn, with 30,000 jobs potentially at risk.

The government published plans yesterday to support the sector through the pandemic, a month after the joint unions wrote a letter calling for support for the sector so that no institution is allowed to fail.

However, while the government has announced that some research and student tuition funding will be brought forward, there are no new funds and universities will need to take out loans if they are facing financial problems.

“The higher education sector is helping this country to get through the COVID-19 crisis,” says UNISON national officer Ruth Levin, “with university researchers working on antibody tests, vaccines, treatments, tracking apps and systems, as well as the psychological, economic impacts of the pandemic.

“Across the UK, the sector needs to know that it will be supported and valued by government and not asked to get further into debt in order to educate future nurses, social workers, teachers, scientists and computer engineers.

“These proposals are disappointing and don’t go far enough to help the sector.”