Union calls for industry bond

June 5, 1998

THE government's comprehensive spending review should set up a higher educaton bond to attract private money into universities, according to the Association of University Teachers.

The AUT's 34-page submission to the CSR, which is due in July, calls on government to sell learning bonds to companies in order to raise cash for universities. The union estimates that the first issue of bonds could raise about Pounds 3 billion.

It says: "We offer this proposal (the "higher education" or "learning bond") because it appears to us that some imagination will be required to deal with the scale of the issues described, especially if there is to be a renewed period of growth embracing a further half million students."

The AUT, which favours increasing participation to 40 per cent of 18 to 21-year-olds, says that the CSR will fail higher education if it does not fund the extra students which were announced by Tony Blair at last year's Labour Party conference. It says that failure to fund these extra students would mean a Pounds 3 billion shortfall early next century.

The union also reiterates its call for fair levels of pay for academic and related staff, which it represents, as well as other workers in the sector. It says a 15 per cent increase, which would "barely restore" comparability with teachers, would cost Pounds 420 million.

State spending on research must be increased, it says, in order to ensure commensurate investment from the private sector. It also proposes an investor in scientific people award for employers and a research and development bond to boost research spending further.

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