UCU In the News

Voters back using public money to bail out UK universities

Around three in four voters (74%) think the next government should step in with emergency funding for universities in financial crisis, reported Times Higher.

The poll, by Savanta on behalf of UCU, showed more than eight in 10 (81%) of those who intend to vote Labour and 77% of those who intend to vote Conservative back government intervention for institutions at risk of closure.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady told Times Higher: ‘This polling shows the British public wants the incoming government to step in and provide urgent financial support to any university at risk of going under. If elected into office next week, the Labour Party has rightly said higher education will be a day-one priority, but it also needs to realise that reckless market dogma has pushed universities to the brink and offer realistic solutions to the crisis. To stave off collapse, higher education must be publicly funded, anything less would be a historic failure.’

Unions look to improved employment relations under a Labour government

On the second anniversary of strikes which have seen hundreds of thousands of workers take industrial action union leaders reflected on industrial relations under the Tories and set out what they expect from Labour, reported The Evening Standard. Unions accused the Conservative Government of misjudging the public mood over strikes following an unprecedented wave of industrial action stretching back two years

Jo Grady told The Independent: ‘Two years on from the summer of discontent, workers across the country have made big gains, and our members have helped lead the way. The University and College Union mobilised like never before, winning not one but two national ballots, and forcing universities to agree to restore our retirement benefits in full. This is the biggest pensions win in British trade union history. Meanwhile, in further education, we took strike action for fair pay across England, winning pay awards of up to 12% at over 60 colleges. We now need to keep up the fight and make sure workers everywhere get their fair share.’

Up to 150 jobs at the University of Hull are at risk

Up to 150 jobs at the University of Hull are at risk as part of a £23m cuts plan because of a claimed drop in income, reported the BBC.

UCU regional official Julie Kelley told the BBC: The cuts would massively increase academic workloads for remaining staff, while degrading the student experience and the quality of teaching provision.’

College staff pass no confidence vote in CEO

Staff at five colleges have passed a vote of no confidence in a CEO in a long-running dispute over pay, reported the BBC. Members of UCU working at colleges which are part of Education Training Collective on Teesside, voted to say they had lost confidence in the group’s CEO Grant Glendinning.

UCU regional support official Chris Robinson told the BBC it was “unfortunate” industrial relations “had been degraded to such an extent” that union members felt they had no option but to move to a motion of no confidence.

“UCU now calls on the ETC governors to step in, show leadership and help prevent any further industrial action being taken,” he added.

500 job cut threat at University of Northampton

The University of Northampton has opened a voluntary severance scheme in an attempt to cut 500 jobs over a claimed £19m deficit due to a drop in international student recruitment, reported the BBC.

UCU Northampton branch secretary Sonya Andermahr told the BBC: ‘UCU’s view is that we broadly welcome the scheme as an alternative to compulsory redundancies. However, we feel that the terms of the scheme mean that it probably won’t have the desired effect of inducing enough staff to leave to make an appreciable difference to the university’s finances. We are seeking to improve the terms at a meeting with the university leadership team next week.’

Yorkshire & Lincolnshire universities’ £107m bill for staff redundancies

Universities in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have spent over £100m making more than 6,000 staff redundant since 2015, the BBC has found. UCU regional official Julie Kelley told the BBC universities had been “hit by the loss of international students”. She added that universities faced a “perfect storm” and it was “a long-running problem”. “We’ve seen some institutions borrow heavily to build fancy new buildings when money was cheap and they are now struggling with the repayments. The impact on staff is huge. Our members are worrying continually about whether the next round of cuts is going to affect them.”

OfS says 4 in 10 English universities face budget deficits

A new Office for Students report warns 40% of England’s universities are expected to run budget deficits this year and that a number face a material risk of closure. Responding to the report, UCU general secretary Jo Grady told The Guardian and Morning Star: ‘The funding model for higher education is broken and needs radical change to put the sector on a firm financial footing. Unfortunately, the Tories seem intent on making the situation worse through constant attacks on migrant students and workers.’

UCU declares academic boycott of Goldsmiths over job cuts

UCU today announced a global academic boycott of Goldsmiths, University of London over the institution’s plans to cut jobs. Staff at Goldsmiths are already undertaking a marking boycott in a dispute over management’s attempt to sack more than one in six academic staff.

With Goldsmiths and its boss Professor Frances Corner refusing to back down from these devastating plans, UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) has approved escalation to an academic boycott, beginning today.

This means the union is calling on members, university workers, trade unionists, and supporters worldwide not to: 

  • apply for any advertised jobs at Goldsmiths 
  • speak at or organise academic or other conferences at Goldsmiths 
  • give lectures at Goldsmiths 
  • accept positions as visiting professors or researchers at Goldsmiths 
  • accept new contracts as external examiners for taught courses at Goldsmiths.

Further details can be found here

Report from EGM 22nd May 2024

A well attended meeting heard reports of various industrial relations matters including the MARS scheme update and news of the planned closure of Inprint & Design. A link to the PPT slides is at the foot of this article.

Attendees were also addressed by the General Secretary of UCU, Dr Jo Grady who gave an update on the national picture, campaigning strategies, and an upcoming campaign focussed on helping LA’s campaign on local issues.

Members were also asked to consider motions on the plans for a review of the recognition agreement and job security

Motion 1: Recognition Agreement.

The branch authorises the branch committee to: ​

  • Work with the employer to re-establish an organisational change forum ​
  • Proceed with exploring negotiations for a new partnership agreement

The motion was carried with no abstentions or votes against.

Motion 2: Job Security and Conditions.

  • The measures taken by the employer must not deleteriously affect (1) job security or (2) working conditions​
  • Any moves by the employer that do not meet the branch’s requirements will move towards a dispute ​
  • That the branch offers solidarity to all UCU branches currently in dispute

The motion was carried with no abstentions or votes against.

Changes to immigration requirements: information for UCU members

From April 2024, a number of changes to immigration requirements will come into force. These include changes to earnings thresholds for those applying for new skilled worker and family visas, as well as updates to SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) codes and rules on supplemental work.

UCU’s immigration lawyers, Bindmans, have prepared a summary of these changes for members which can be found here.

You can find more information about resources and support for migrant members in your branch–and the latest news about the activity of the UCU migrant members’ standing committee (MMSC)–on our website here.

Any Questions?

The Vice Chancellor has announced an open session to hear more about the University’s response to the financial challenges referred to in her recent video address, and the impact of those efficiency measures that she announced.

An update on the financial forecast will be delivered by CFO Andrew Lang; details of a planned refurbishment of Student Central and JBP Library will also be shared.

This is also billed as an opportunity for staff to pose questions to the executive team, and we encourage all members to make the most of this opportunity.

The event takes place on 14th March between 10am and 11am in The Amp Bar, Student Central

Report from EGM 8 February 2024

Following on from the VC’s video address to staff, UCU Bradford LA called an Extraordinary General Meeting to give an opportunity for staff to air their views and concerns. In addition branch committee reported their grave concerns over a suggestion contained within a paper outlining a recovery strategy that was presented to Senate. The paper falsely indicated that campus unions had been consulted and were content with the plans as presented.

The EGM was held on-line and was well attended, with good contributions from the floor.

The following motions were passed:

Motion 1: UCU Bradford University LA calls upon management to issue a full and unequivocal withdrawal of claims that UCU and other campus trade unions had in any way offered support or endorsement of any of the steps currently under consideration by management as a response to the so called ‘unsustainable business model’, and to commit to making no such claims in the future.

Motion 2: UCU Bradford University LA calls upon management to immediately and fully engage in meaningful and transparent discussions with UCU at the inception stage of any proposed changes, removal of, or the creation of new academic programmes.

Motion 3: UCU Bradford University LA calls upon management to recognise that:​

  • the ‘suite’ of actions now mooted should be regarded holistically,
  • There is a need for absolute fairness and transparency in the development of any changes to the business model, organisations, or academic programmes and the potential for impact on jobs that might flow from such changes.
  • the plan should fall under the jurisdiction of the Organisational Change Policy, including the establishing of an Employment Security Forum

Motion 4: UCU Bradford University LA calls upon management to adopt an ‘open book’ policy over its financial position, including:

  • analysis of income from teaching, research and knowledge transfer activities​
  • what proportion of income is directed at the above activities​
  • financial forecasts and how they are derived, and​
  • financial sustainability,​

and to share the business case and cost/benefit analyses of any upcoming investments in core and non-core business activities scheduled to take place during the next recruitment/delivery cycle.

Motion 5: Members call upon the LA President to communicate branch concerns in a letter to the Chair and all members of Council, in particular to urge that they learn the lessons of BEP and ensure that the impact on jobs and job security is clearly articulated in any proposals brought forwards for their consideration/approval.​

Motions 1, 2, 4 & 5 were carried unanimously; motion 3 was carried by majority.

The outcome of the EGM has been communicated in a letter to the Vice Chancellor, and Motion 5 has been enacted.

Reporting ASOS action

Some members have been requested to report action they took as part of ASOS during the supplementary assessment period. The branch is advising those members to:

  1. Inform the branch via ucusupport@bradford.ac.uk
  2. Reply to the email from HR noting that you are consulting with your union branch and for HR to contact the union.

Once the branch has met with the employer, we will provide members with more advice.