University of Ulster announcement is latest blow to education and skills base

unite-white-out-of-redNI Executive parties must choose to invest in skills and education to secure long-term economic future

Reducing places at local Universities further reduces access for working-class children

June 18th: Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, Davy Thompson, expressed his union’s concerns over the announcement that the University of Ulster plans to slash 210 jobs and 1,200 student places over the next three years:

“This announcement is a brutal blow to the workforce many of whom we represent. It is also devastating news to a generation of young students who would aspire to pursue qualifications at the University. This decision has been forced by the punitive budget cuts agreed by all parties in the Northern Ireland Executive, which threaten the viability of Northern Ireland’s Higher and Further Education institutions.

“This move will further reduce access to a University education for working-class children by raising the entry-level grade boundaries to local providers. Those who don’t go to exclusive schools or whose parents can’t afford to pay for tutors increasingly struggle to gain the elusive grade targets required to get into local Universities. This means that students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds are left faced with the choice of taking on huge debt to gain a degree elsewhere or to forego university education entirely.

“Instead of reducing access to further and higher education for all, the sort of economy we want and deserve will be built on broadening and deepening the quality and skills of all sections of the labour force. Yet, while all our politicians agreed on these brutal cuts they were confident that they could find hundreds of millions to pay for a corporate tax giveaway. The Stormont parties need to wake up to the reality that our future economic growth is dependent on retaining quality education, quality infrastructure and public services. These devastating job-losses and reduction in places are a ‘false economy’ leading us to an economic dead-end”, Mr Thompson concluded.

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