From education to employment

Union will speak at TUC rally to fight for public sector

A union has slammed “cheeky” proposals to privatise colleges following a suggestion made by the 157 Group’s Chair, Ioan Morgan.

Speaking today at a national Trades Union Congress (TUC) rally for public services, the University and College Union (UCU) will voice concerns over moves to “sell off colleges for a song”.

Barry Lovejoy, Head of Further Education at the UCU, commented: “Sadly, the recent Leitch report into further education (FE) defined education and training as just another commodity. Ioan Morgan’s proposal takes advantage of this view, and it may enable someone to make a fast buck from asset stripping colleges”.

“How cheeky can he get? These colleges have received public money and support for years. If colleges are privatised, will the new owners be paying a market price repaying over 100 years of public investment? College privatisation is a recipe for another rip-off of the public purse. It would be a complete betrayal by colleges of the local communities and people they are supposed to serve. It would also betray staff who want to serve the public, not shareholders”.

The 157 Group was formed on the back of the Foster Review, taking its name from paragraph 157 which stated that larger, more successful colleges should play a greater role in helping to further the sector.

Mr Lovejoy noted the recent publicity given to the sector and the need to better its image: “If the status of Further Education needs boosting, we need greater national efforts to communicate its many successes, and greater support for colleges with difficulties, not Ioan Morgan’s elitist response which does nothing to help the sector overall”.

“Mr Morgan should remember that “shares can go down as well as up” and if colleges go private there wont be a public safety net waiting to catch them when they fail. UCU’s concern is who would rescue the students and communities? UCU is absolutely committed to public service values and to keeping FE in the public sector and we applaud the TUC’s national lobby to defend public services”.

“We shall fight any attempt to sell off colleges for a song”.

Vijay Pattni.

What do you think about the role of the 157 Group?

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Related FE News articles:

“We Must Embrace Brave New World” ““ 19/01/07

Breaking News ““ Lord Leitch’s Final Report Published ““ 05/12/06

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