Opponents of plans to privatise the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) are protesting on campus tomorrow (Thursday). There will be a lunchtime rally, followed by a privatisation ‘teach-in’, where staff and students will discuss the privatisation plans, before protestors lobby the board of governors’ meeting.
Students and staff have united to oppose plans to radically alter how UCLAN operates. UCLAN, like most modern universities, is currently a corporation established by statute. The statutes limit what a university can do with its assets and ensure they are used for educational purposes.
However, the vice-chancellor, Malcolm McVicar, has unveiled plans that would change the institution into a private company limited by guarantee. The new company would be called UCLAN Group with McVicar as chief executive and the current university a subsidiary of the group. In January the university said the proposals have not been signed off and no final decision has been taken.
Key events and times on Thursday:
· 12.00pm – lunchtime rally at the Adelphi roundabout (map here – http://tinyurl.com/2eoou7)
· 2.00 pm – privatisation ‘teach-in’ outside the Atrium Café (inside if the weather’s poor)
· 4.30pm – protestors lobby the board of governors’ meeting
Protestors fear the privatisation plans will erode scrutiny of the university’s decisions and allow private equity funds a much sought-after route into UK higher education. Although the university would remain a charity, the proposed changes would make it easier for the university to slim down its governance structures and possibly regroup some or all of its assets into a for-profit subsidiary company.
Hundreds of people have already signed a petition against the plans. See the petition here – https://www.ucu.org.uk/uclanpetition
Kevan Nelson, UNISON North West regional head, said: “University privatisation is a dangerous experiment – students and staff are right to be very angry. Once the private sector steps in, profits come first and people come second. Vital services such as universities should be run by the public sector and be wholly accountable to the public they were set up to serve. UNISON will be fighting this privatisation every step of the way. The UK’s education system is one of the best, and we want to keep it that way.”
University and College Union regional official, Martyn Moss, said: “Students and staff will make their feelings on the vice-chancellor’s plans quite clear on Thursday. Universities’ reputations for excellence are built on the fact that education, not profit, comes first. The vice-chancellor seems to be driving attempts to transform the university’s structures and then become chief executive of a new company.”