STUC Alarm at closure of universities and colleges equality support unit

April 8th 2009

Scottish trade unions today expressed their deep concerns at the decision of the Scottish Funding Council to end the funding of a unit which provides equalities support to Scotland’s colleges and universities.

The Scottish Funding Council has recently decided to end the modest funding of Equality Forward after a short consultation. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is concerned that the full results of the consultation have not yet been made public to justify the axing of the equalities support unit, and is alarmed that colleges and universities will not have the support and guidance of dedicated equalities experts in Equality Forward after July 2009.

Speaking today STUC Assistant Secretary Mary Senior said:

“We all know that addressing deep seated inequality and striving towards a more equal society is very challenging. This is why the support from a dedicated equality unit for colleges and universities is vital. Only last week we saw from official statistics that the gender pay gap in our universities is widening, highlighting just one of the significant challenges that must be addressed”.

Ms Senior added: “Our universities and colleges have important roles as educators, employers, and in influencing positive economic, social and cultural change. There is an important role for an equalities support unit in guiding and supporting colleges and universities in tackling occupational segregation, supporting students from diverse backgrounds, and in becoming best practice employers. Whilst the STUC is clear that Equality Forward needs to have more clout to take forward this agenda, we are shocked and frustrated by a decision which seems to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The STUC is urging the Scottish Funding Council to reverse this decision. ”

Kainde Manji, NUS Scotland Women's Officer said:

"We are extremely concerned about the decision to end funding to Equality Forward, and what this will mean for the future of the equalities agenda in Scottish further and higher education. Equality in education is important, not only at the point of access, but throughout the learning experience. It is vital that this is acknowledged when the Funding Council decides on provisions for this work in the near future."

Ends

For further information:

Mary Senior Tel: 0141 337 8100

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