Unite to fight the predators

January 19, 2012

The Harvard University report on the appalling record of for-profit companies in the US is timely ("US for-profits leave students worse off", 12 January).

This welcome contribution adds to the growing body of evidence pointing to the toxic effects of the profit motive in higher education.

Yet still the government presses on, tempted by the siren voices of the for-profit lobbyists. Profit is seen to be too dangerous for our schools, but students wanting to enter higher education, who are already condemned to a working life of debt, are now to be offered up to the powerful, predatorial US companies, the same companies whose shameful legacy is illuminated by the Harvard report.

We have the opportunity to prevent a similar catastrophe for students and taxpayers in the UK. It is not too late to change the government's mind. The academic community is opposed to any moves to create a for-profit sector in this country, as the recent letter of protest from 500 leading academics published by The Daily Telegraph shows.

But time is short and we need all the representatives of our sector to wake up to this threat and unite around the simple demand to keep profit out of higher education. I am determined that the University and College Union will do everything in its power to build that unity.

Sally Hunt, General secretary, University and College Union

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