The Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (Ucea) has been forced to issue a grovelling apology to MPs after misrepresenting the education select committee’s position in the ongoing lecturers’ pay dispute.
Ucea chief executive Jocelyn Prudence and chairman Geoffrey Copland apologised “unreservedly” for a “sorry situation” after being hauled before a specially convened committee hearing last week.
Ucea had claimed in a press release that the committee was backing employers in the increasingly bitter pay battle, which was not the committee’s position.
Education select committee chairman, Barry Sheerman, said the Ucea had come “very close to a breach of trust”.
Copland said: “We apologise unreservedly for this. It was a mistake. It was something that happened in the flurry of activity. We withdrew it as soon as we realised that a mistake had been made.”
Sheerman said he accepted Ucea’s “wholehearted and fulsome apology”.
Lecturers are seeking a 23% pay rise over three years and are refusing to mark students’ exam papers until their demands are met. Ucea’s “best and final offer” is a 12.6% rise over the same period.
The two sides are due to meet for more talks at the conciliation service Acas today.