As ballot papers went out this week for the University and College Union (UCU) national executive positions, candidates supported by UCU Left – including general secretary candidate Roger Kline – were campaigning against creeping privatisation of education.
Universities across Britain are threatening to privatise language centres and close “unprofitable” courses.
On Friday of last week over 100 students and lecturers took part in a protest against the privatisation of the language centre at Newcastle university.
Howard Miles is a lecturer at Bradford college and is standing for the Yorkshire and Humberside regional FE position. He told Socialist Worker, “This is a crucial issue, and the size of the lobby on Friday shows that members want to resist this threat.
“This is just the thin end of the wedge of privatisation of education. It looks as though Oxford Brookes and Leeds university could well be next. We need a serious and immediate campaign.”
Dundee university is also facing threats to its language facilities.
Around 100 jobs are under threat after the principal announced a shortfall of £10 million. Four academic units and three services used by everyone – including the library research section – are targeted in the first set of cuts.
Initially the university had said that there was a £1.6 million deficit – which they blamed on last year’s pay deal for lecturers.
The £10 million figure was released after the departure of the finance director last week.
Carlo Morelli, another UCU Left candidate, is a lecturer at the university. He said, “The university should be seeking to be part of the community.
“These cuts will not just affect staff and students but the wider community – with threats to services like the botanic gardens and access courses.
“The cuts would result in widespread redundancies and outsourcing of services to the private sector.
“Around 100 people attended a meeting last Tuesday which agreed to launch a broad based campaign including all sections of the community. This Wednesday students planned a lobby against the cuts.
“I urge people to send messages of support to [email protected]”
Gargi Bhattacharyya is a lecturer at Birmingham University, and is standing for the UCU national executive.
She said, “At Birmingham we are fighting attempts to close our Community, Play and Youth Work courses – where the predominately black and minority ethnic lecturers’ jobs are under threat.
“Employers are watching the UCU elections, and a low turnout in this election will be read as weakness.”
For a full list of candidates supported by UCU Left and news on these campaigns go to www.uculeft.org