AUTS blames govt for boycott

August 13, 1999

The Association of University Teachers Scotland is urging university applicants hit by its admissions boycott to demand why the government is not helping resolve the academic pay dispute.

The AUTS this week launched its first two-day boycott of the admissions process as Scottish applicants whose highers results came out last Friday began to contact institutions. David Bleiman, assistant general secretary of the AUTS, sent an open letter to applicants "bitterly regretting" that

the union had been forced to resort to industrial action "after years of underpayment and months of unresolved dispute".

He suggested that worried prospective students should write to their MSP and to Scotland's enterprise and lifelong learning minister, Henry McLeish, asking why the government expressed sympathy with academics' pay claims but failed to provide funds or take action to resolve the dispute.

Mr Bleiman also urged applicants to question the impact of tuition fees on higher education resources. He said they should ask: "Now that I am being asked to contribute up to Pounds 1,025 to the costs of my university tuition, what precisely is the extra benefit I can expect to see, compared to my older brother or sister, or my mum or dad, who paid nothing?"

There was no evidence of AUTS members being victimised because of the boycott, he said, and there had been no panic among applicants and their parents, who understood that at worst they faced a two-day delay.

Scotland's eight old universities said the action had not disrupted their admissions process. An Edinburgh University spokeswoman said decisions that were clear could be taken immediately, while others would always be subject to consideration, "so the effect on prospective students is minimal".

Glasgow University said staff had processed 510 calls on Monday, compared with 474 last year.

An Aberdeen University spokeswoman said: "Everything is running as normal."

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