1) Pay Dispute Update
Our Higher Education Committee meets this Friday, 14 October to discuss, among other things, the current pay dispute.
They will hear back from the four HE Regional Briefings that took place during September, discuss the latest offer from the employers’ body University and College Employers Association (UCEA) and decide the next steps in the industrial dispute.
2) United For Education – 19th November & 3rd Convention for Higher Education, This Saturday, 10am-5pm
UCU and NUS are gearing up for their joint London demonstration on Saturday, 19th November. The demonstration is in defence of free, accessible and quality further and higher education, demanding an end to privatisation and cuts in universities and colleges.
Staff, students and supporters from across the education sector and trade union movement will march in London in what promises to be a huge show of opposition to government policy.
Bristol UCU and Bristol SU are already jointly planning our local campaign. Watch this space for further information.
The 3rd Convention for Higher Education meets this Saturday, 10am-5pm at UCL ‘to organise Parliamentary, sectoral, institutional and community opposition to the Government’s HE Bill, and to prepare for resistance to its consequences should the Bill be passed into law’.
If you interested in attending, let firstname.lastname@example.org know and we can subsidise your transport.
Bristol UCU still has copies of the 2nd Convention’s Alternative White Paper for HE on request. And we are able to suggest concrete actions that go with it, not just ‘put on bookshelf’!
These are uncertain, worrying times in HE to put it mildly. With talk of ostracizing so-called ‘foreign workers’, many staff at Bristol are worried about their and their colleagues’ status.
Following the news from LSE that the government is effectively discriminating employing academics on the basis of passport, UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt has made it clear ‘if the government is indeed turning down advice from experts in European Union affairs purely on the basis of which country they are from, then this goes against the very nature of an open and independent academic community’.
‘The decision will send a chill through the academic community and make it harder still to persuade people to study and work here’.
UCU has set up an online tool [website] to lobby your MP on behalf of UCU and its policy ‘to recognise and protect th[e] enormous contribution’ of EU and non-UK staff and students at UK universities.
Bristol UCU members are reminded of the recent Bristol UCU Executive letter to the University calling on it to commit publicly to indefinite leave and to consider offering legal support to EU staff [PDF].
While, of course, University senior management is enormously sympathetic to Brexit concerns – it rather puts a spanner in the business model works – it would be to the University’s spokespersons’ credit, if, like other institutions, they were less equivocal and more committed to protecting existing rights and workplace conditions.
4) External Appointments – Heads of School
At the recent Joint Consultation and Negotiating Committee (JCNC), Bristol UCU expressed its disquiet with the fast-tracked proposal to externally advertise Heads of School and other senior positions.
Bristol UCU echoed concerns expressed by members in various fora about the cost and practicality of external appointments, especially in STEM subjects, as well as the impact upon intra-School collegiality and governance.
5) Solidarity with Hull, London Met and Coventry
Across the UK, there are many examples of UCU branches at the sharp end of HE and FE practice
At Hull College, College management has issued a notice that threatened over 140 posts at the College with redundancy – including 60 lecturing staff. This is the sixth year in a row that job losses have been announced resulting in just short of 400 job losses. Bristol UCU have sent a statement of support.
In the case of London Met, Bristol UCU authorised a £100 contribution to the London Met UCU strike fund. The London Met UCU branch has voted by a large majority for strike action and for UCU to begin “grey-listing” of their institution. This is in response to mass redundancies and the victimisation of UCU reps Mark Campbell and David Hardman.
At Coventry University, UCU won union recognition for subsidiary employees after lots of excellent organising and hard work from the branch, the West Midlands UCU office and the national anti-casualisation team.
Coventry management has responded by attempting to union bust, replacing staff contracts with a new contract with a non-union recognising subsidiary. Staff have been sacked and told if they wish to continue working, it must be as agency workers assigned to another subsidiary company of the University.
6) NSS & RSS
From the Royal Statistical Society’s Response to the recent year 2 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) consultation:
‘…student satisfaction as measured by the National Student Survey (NSS)…Teaching Quality. We are not aware that there is any evidence of a statistical association between the two concepts’ [PDF]
And it’s on this specious ‘association’ that the TEF is to based, academic ‘leaders’ careers rise or fall and School Reviews falter!
UCU opposes the TEF and HE Bill [PDF] – ‘[w]e are opposed to the proposal for variable tuition fees limits linked to assessments of teaching quality’ – and will be campaigning on that basis on the run-up to the 19th November.