Union members from the two universities in Bristol held a mass rally at the to institutions. A great turnout was followed by local media coverage in the Evening Post:
University staff protest over plan to cut education funding
STAFF at Bristol’s two universities have warned Chancellor George Osborne that further cuts to education funding will have a serious impact on the city.
On the eve of today’s Budget, unions staged demonstrations at both the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.
They were among staff and students at more than 70 colleges and universities who took part in protests yesterday over plans to cut university funding by over £1.2 billion, and adult learning by over £200 million.
The campaigners say higher education has been hit by financial restraints and further curbs will hit current and future students and also the local and national economy.
The seven unions campaigning under the banner United for Education want Mr Osborne to protect university funding and put education at the heart of the economic recovery.
They say slashing the education budget could create a “lost generation of learners”.
There are fears that thousands of young people will miss out on going to university this year because applications have reached a record level, but only 10,000 extra places have been available.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: “Nearly one million young people are not in education, employment or training, and over 200,000 qualified applicants could miss out on a university place this year.
“Anyone who thinks that cuts won’t massively impact on the quality of education in the country is living in a dream world.”
Six thousand people, from cleaners to professors, work at Bristol University, and 3,400 at UWE.
Both centres have seen voluntary redundancies already and expect to see more jobs go.
Further education, at colleges such as City of Bristol and Filton, and adult education classes have also been hit.
James Annett, of UCU at Bristol University, said the demonstration in Park Row yesterday was aiming to raise awareness of the impact that cutting higher and further education funding would have.
“This is just the start of what might well be a long campaign,” he said.
At Bristol and at UWE, the main unions involved in the protest were UCU, Unison and Unite.
More than 600 people at UWE have signed a petition in support of the campaign, delivered to Vice Chancellor Professor Steve West.
Mike Hines, of Unison at UWE, said cutbacks at the university would affect the local economy. He said the campaigners believed education was vital so that people would continue to have the skills and knowledge needed.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “Times are very tough and so it is not possible to exclude higher education and further education from the need for public expenditure savings, but the Government is committed to protecting front-line services for students and learners.”