The Open University branch of the University and College Union
In Wales, the Open University branch of UCU has led representations to Senedd (Welsh Parliament) and found cross-party support on pensions and working conditions.
Two Members of Senedd, Mike Hedges (Labour) and Sioned Williams (Plaid Cymru) co-sponsored the event, having previously attended our lobby on the steps of Senedd two weeks earlier. Also giving strong support were Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds MS and several other Labour and Plaid Cymru Members. The Conservative Shadow Education Minister in Wales, Laura Anne Jones, attended and other ministers registered support.
The event began with a powerful and moving statement from National Union for Students Wales President Becky Ricketts. She highlighted student concerns that the dramatically deteriorating working conditions in Higher Education will lead to experienced and qualified staff leaving and learning provision being greatly compromised in consequence.
The results of the just-released UCU survey confirm student fears, showing that 2/3 of university staff are looking elsewhere for work. UCU - Two-thirds of university staff considering leaving sector, new report reveals
Dr Woon Wong, an economist from Cardiff Business School, followed with an expert overview of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Woon showed that it is a strong scheme and that fears about any deficit are incorrect. (You can hear Woon speaking about the USS issues to our branch meeting.)
Professor Sue Jordan, Branch President of Swansea University UCU, described the brain drain from research in the UK.
The OU's student support staff and Associate Lecturers showed how the pension changes, as well as work overload, equality pay gaps and low pay are seriously impacting Higher Education teaching provision.
One of the Open University students asked to send a statement to Senedd, since she was unable to come in person. She said:
Nobody comes into education to get rich, but we do expect the years of rigorous training and the knowledge of staff to be recognised and rewarded, not constantly diminished year after year.