The UCU Solidarity Movement is staging an ‘Emergency Covid-19 Student Staff Assembly’ from 11am this Saturday (11 October). A spokesperson for the UCU (University and College Union), which represents further and higher education staff, described the event’s aims:
The purpose of the assembly is to act as a springboard to kick-start a mass movement to defend our students, our communities and our staff, against the deadly rush back to campus teaching in further and higher education.
To achieve this the Student-Staff Assembly will seek to:
• Build solidarity with our students and encourage local staff-student solidarity activities on each campus
• Share information with others in our movement on strategy and tactics where resistance takes place
• Defend the rights of our students – e.g. to return home
• Ensure safe working on campus only as necessary – e.g. minimisingin person-teaching and facilitating a rethink of the curricula
• Defend jobs for all staff, including outsourced and casualised staff
• Challenge the broken model of post-16 education funding
We believe that the current crisis across the university sector is caused by the policy decisions of the authorities in their headlong rush to force us to carry out on-campus teaching. Staff and students refuse to be passive victims, and we put the blame squarely upon the government and university authorities for the consequences of this policy, including:
• Callously blaming students for Covid-19 infection outbreaks• Extortion of students for rent and tuition fees
• Health risks to all from Covid-19 infection
• Unsustainable workloads, bullying, stress and mental health issuesfor staff in the frontline
• Redundancies for staff when furlough ends
As indicated, and in line with both UCU and UNISON policy, we believe these issues arise from a failed funding model for post compulsory education, which pits institutions against each other in the competition for tuition and halls fees. We demand a return to free tuition for all, with maintenance grants, reform of research funding and support for all in lifelong learning, skills and reskilling, in order to fully participate in society.
The event will take place on Zoom. Confirmed speakers include children’s author and COVID-19 survivor Michael Rosen and former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP.
With tens of thousands of students confined in isolation and universities and other educational institutions suffering mass outbreaks as the second wave of the pandemic builds, a coordinated response to the government’s failures and deliberate policies is essential.
Register here: https://bit.ly/33cSsBL
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