UCU? What is the union for?

‘UCU’ stands for the Universities and Colleges Union.

At the most basic level the UCU is there to represent the interests of those working in higher, further, adult and community and prison education. It is there to represent members at an individual level but also collectively to local and national employers, funding bodies, politicians and other interested bodies.

UCU is the largest post-school union in the world representing the interests of more than 120,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK.

How UCU works

Members of UCU belong to branches or local associations, which are generally workplace-based. These members directly elect their own officers who negotiate and represent members locally, with support from full-time staff in regional offices throughout the UK. They also elect delegates to the union’s congress, either directly or, from smaller institutions and workplaces, through aggregations of smaller branches and local associations. [See also: Getting Involved]

You can find out details of your local branch or local association by entering the name of the institution you work at here: Find your branch information here. This will provide you with details of your local branch contact and also your regional contact.

UCU’s supreme policy-making body of the union is its annual congress which is made up of delegates from branches.

Members of the national executive committee (NEC) of UCU, elected by UCU members include HE and FE members, some of whom are elected regionally, some on a UK-wide basis, plus equality seats and officers of the union. They also include 2 designated seats for representatives of staff on casualised contracts. The NEC is responsible for conducting the union’s business between Congress meetings.

The union also has a number of equality standing committees and special employment interest groups which advise the NEC’s work including the Anti-casualisation committee whose representatives are elected at our Annual Meeting for Staff on Casualised Contracts.

UCU also has a number of regional and national committees to co-ordinate discussion and activity between branches, and, in the case of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, annual meetings held to decide specific national policy.