Universities and colleges face day of strikes

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The Independent Online

Universities and colleges will be hit by a national day of action tomorrow in protest at funding cuts.

Demonstrations are expected to be held at more than 70 institutions across the UK, as staff and students call on Chancellor George Osborne to protect education funding in Tuesday's budget.

The action has been arranged by seven trade unions who say cuts will lead to job losses and impact on the quality of students' education.

It was announced last month that universities must save £200 million this year, on top of savings totalling around £1 billion over the next few years.

And it is thought that hundreds of thousands of would-be students could be turned away from universities this autumn as institutions cut and freeze places.

Record numbers are applying to start courses this September, but only 10,000 extra places have been made available, mainly for science and maths based subjects.

According to Ucas figures, as of the end of May there had been 640,760 applications for this autumn, a rise of 77,758 (13.8%) on last year.

Multi-million pound cuts are also being made to adult education.

Tomorrow's action will call on the Government to put education at the heart of Britain's economic recovery.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) said: "It is essential that we raise awareness about the huge cuts facing further, higher and adult education and that the Government protects education in Tuesday's budget. We are not scaremongering when we talk about a lost generation of learners. Nearly one million young people are not in education, employment or training and over 200,000 qualified applicants could miss out on a university place this year. Anyone who thinks that cuts won't massively impact on the quality of education in the country is living in a dream world."

Mike Robinson, Unite's national officer for higher education, said: "Education is the seedbed for our economic future - greater skills and knowledge acquired by young men and women will underpin the UK recovery. Education is the gateway for innovation and creativity that has been the foundation for this country's prosperity over the last 150 years. To slash the education budget is a retrograde step. We should be investing more not less."

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