Make Leeds University Union defend students, not profits
Leeds University Union have launched a new campaign called ‘Education First’. But far from acting to stop the £35 million in cuts we are facing, the campaign actually sides with university management and against staff who are acting to save our teaching quality and their jobs.
The Education First Campaign aims to get students to stop their teachers in the UCU union from taking strike action, and repeats management’s rhetoric on their website. The student union are trying to make us complacent about the devastating reality the planned 10 % cutback will really have on our education. And here’s how:
- “Education First?”
The campaign launched by Leeds University Union is not about putting education first at all. The website front page of the campaign makes it clear that this is an anti-staff campaign – the UCU are attacked immediately, not the severe cuts that the management are planning. Only later on are we told about the £35 million in cuts, but we are told “current students won’t lose out”. Do you believe this?
- The future of our education
But education isn’t just about current students, it’s about the future. Nothing is said about the future of the university and the quality of education that will be provided for our younger brothers and sisters. As a result of these attacks, they are in danger of paying double the fees that we pay, but for far worse education. Shouldn’t LUU be concerned? But is it true that “current students” won’t lose out? We stand to have the worst student:staff ratio of any Russell Group university, and in any case, if we don’t fend off the cuts, then the management will just come back for more.
- More students + less staff = no problem?
The Education First campaign admits that student:staff ratios seem “certain to increase”. Worried? Don’t be, because your union reminds you that the National Student Survey does not think that class sizes and the availability of your teachers has any impact on your “student satisfaction.”
- Siding with the managers
LUU should exist to protect the interests of students and provide us with independent information we need to defend education. Yet they have posted on their blog and the LUU website a management written FAQ on the cuts that avoids all the difficult questions. Incredibly, one of the questions asked is “will the university be taking steps to reduce its biscuit bill?” whereas there is not a single question or answer relating to the 700 jobs under threat. Whitewash anyone?
- Let’s support our teachers
The truth is that lecturers are balloting for strike action because they are concerned more about the 700 jobs under threat than chocolate digestives. LUU are asking us to undermine them by sending them emails telling them not to strike. But our teachers care far more about our education that the student union does, and it’s clear from their website that they are taking action as a last resort. They tell us on their blog that they are concerned that students are being told very little about the cuts. It’s true. And for that we have our own student union to blame.