The latest roll call of environmental achievement from the People and Planet Green League shows another impressive leap for our university – which the hard work of our staff should take credit for.
Glasgow Caledonian has increased its position in this table from 59th to 46th – following on from a previous increase the year before. Latest figures show us having achieved 41 points out of 70 on a wide ranging set of issues from our approach to fair trade, to whether we have a carbon management plan.
Unlike the NSS plans which are methodologically unsound and essentially a ‘lose-lose’ approach, the People and Planet league is robustly constructed and something we should strive to do well in.
Crucially one of the key indicators for the People and Planet is staff involvement, specifically Trade Union consultation on environmental plans. We wrongly reported on June 13th that the University had not invited information from the Trade Unions regarding this. In fact for the first time we had been contacted, but due to a mix-up (on our side) the meeting did not take place. So we apologise for the original mis-reporting.
We’re pleased to say that we have now again been invited to talk about the University’s environmental approach and plans – something we welcome, and look forward to reporting on the discussions here positively.
We have long argued that full involvement of Trade Unions in all aspects of university life is the best way of guaranteeing ‘buy-in’ and of constructing an approach fully reflective of the full university community.
UCU today cautiously welcomed news in the budget that the government has decided against allowing for-profit providers of higher education VAT exemption.
UCU led the campaign against the move and wrote to the minister for universities and science, David Willetts, asking him to block any moves to grant for-profit providers of education exemption from VAT.
The union argued that VAT exemption should not be granted to companies whose primary mission is to reward shareholders, rather than the provision of education. The union’s concerns were shared by the business, innovation and skills committee, who repeatedly questioned ministers on how a VAT cut for for-profit companies would affect the health of the sector.
Under current rules, universities and colleges are exempt from paying VAT on education services they provide because of their not-for-profit status. Today’s budget suggests that privilege will not be extended to for-profit education providers.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The government must not allow companies seeking to make profit out of higher education access to a VAT break and we are pleased today’s budget appears to back our call.
‘We don’t doubt people looking to make a quick buck out of our higher education system will continue to circle the sector, but giving them tax breaks does not create a level-playing field as some have argued. Any tax breaks, on top of their ability to raise capital from the markets, could lead to established universities being undercut by for-profits delivering only courses likely to make them money.’
Dr Douglas Chalmers, Vice President elect of UCU Scotland also welcomed this move saying: “Our view is that there is too much marketisation of Higher Education already and for-profit providers will only exacerbate the situation further, by seeking to pick off lucrative areas within Higher Education and leaving the public sector to pick up the pieces. Our view is – Higher Education is not Business as Usual – it’s different and needs to stay different. It gives all the more reason that the knowledge economy campaign ought to be supported “
Sustainability as a concept is great - but it needs to be a collective effort involving our staff, not discarding them
The irony may be lost on some but in a month when specialist researchers in the Caledonian Environment Centre are facing the prospect of job cuts, the University prints a dedicated sustainability issue of the University’s public facing magazine, highlighting the contribution the University is making to the green agenda. Over the past year the University has promoted its commitment to the environment though Eco-Campus and Carbon Management initiatives, but at the first hint of a potential shortfall or delay in funding put an entire team on statutory consultation. Continue reading