The following two Congress motions, first on ‘Universities Under Attack’ and second on ‘USS Divestment’ were overwhelmingly passed at a large GUCU branch meeting on Tuesday 3 March 2020
- Universities under attack – we fight back
HESC notes that:
1. The emergence of a higher education ‘market’ has destabilised the sector and pitted institutions against each other;
2. The government is committed to an instrumentalist ‘value for money’ approach to higher education that prioritises future earnings over the wider contribution of a university degree;
3. While the sector as a whole makes a large surplus, one in four universities were in deficit in 2018, compared to one in 10 in 2013;
4. Recruitment freezes, redundancy programmes, unreasonable workloads and increases in precarious contracts are common at many institutions;
To organise a high-profile campaign to oppose cuts and redundancies in Higher Education, including national and regional conferences, lobbies, publicity material and activist resources.
Proposed: Des Freedman
Seconded: Marian Carty
2. USS Divestment
HESC notes that:
USS invests funds in a wide range of companies that many of us would consider unethical, including defense companies Raytheon and Thales;
USS itself is clearly aware of the unethical nature of its investment portfolio, given that it offers a specific ‘‘ethical lifestyle” pensions package option, available only for additional contributions in the USS Investment Builder;
The USS ethical lifestyle portfolio explicitly excludes not only the arms trade but also fossil fuels, tobacco, gambling and pornography. However, USS appears to see the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco, gambling and pornography as legitimate areas for its standard investment.
HESC resolves to:
Bring this to the attention of local UCU branches;
Launch a campaign calling on USS to divest from defense companies, and other unethical companies, including those involved in environmental destruction;
Demand that UUK also calls on USS to undertake this divestment.