The University and College Union (UCU) has written to employers, asking them to act to stop creeping privatisation in UK universities.
In the letter, UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, expressed concern about the quality of education provided and the impact on the terms and conditions of staff where private provision replaces that of the institution itself.
The union claims it has already learned of instances where private companies providing academic services to overseas students have tried to recruit less-qualified staff for lower pay.
Trade unions representing university staff backed UCU’s call for the University and Colleges Employers’ Association to commit to signing a joint statement opposing the privatisation of key university functions.
Hunt said: “Privatisation threatens both the quality of educational provision and the pay and conditions of university staff.
“Universities should be places of learning, not earning, and that is why we have written to the employers’ association asking them to alleviate staff fears by giving a clear commitment to oppose privatisation of academic and other key university functions.”
More than 4,000 members have signed UCU’s open letter to university vice-chancellors calling for a commitment not to privatise.