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Unions 2000 Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Warning over higher education funding
lecture theatre
The union says university funding cuts are affecting teaching quality
The government has been warned to invest in higher education - or watch it go down the drain.

A university lecturers' leader says cuts in funding for UK universities have eroded the quality of teaching and often weakened research.

David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers (AUT), is calling on the government to meet international funding standards for higher education - committing itself to knowledge as it had to health.

Speaking on Thursday at his union's annual conference in Eastbourne, he said: "Let us see this commitment in the comprehensive spending review and in the next General Election manifesto."

woman looking down microscope
There are few female professors in many science subjects

Mr Triesman pointed out how The Wellcome Trust had invested in its university-based scientists last June by increasing pay by 30% to avoid losing valuable talent.

Several charities had followed suit, but the government had remained silent, holding universities responsible for how they paid their staff.

Mr Triesman also addressed the issue of equal opportunities in higher education.

He said that the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, had helped by describing the record of vice-chancellors in this area as "deplorable" in a speech on higher education at Greenwich in February.

'We can all improve'

But he said much still needed to be done.

91% of professors were male, and the percentages were even higher in many science subjects - 96% in biology, maths and physical sciences, and 98% in engineering and technology.

Mr Triesman said: "If you know of a woman in these latter categories, bring her to work in a Securicor van for fear of losing her."

Black and ethnic minority academics also faced problems of discrimination.

"We can all improve - unions as well as employers - that is for sure," he said.

See also:

17 Apr 00 | UK Education
04 Apr 00 | UK Education
04 Apr 00 | UK Education
17 Mar 00 | UK Education
03 Mar 00 | UK Education
02 Mar 00 | UK Education
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