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Time running out for London Met as academic boycott date closes in

31 August 2009

London Metropolitan University (LMU) faces the ignominy of becoming the first university to be 'greylisted' by the UCU in a row over job cuts.

The beleaguered institution was told by UCU in June that it would become the first university to suffer an academic boycott if it did not come back round the table to thrash out a negotiated solution. The countdown to greylisting clock is ticking.

Resolving the matter before tomorrow (Tuesday) looks increasingly unlikely and the union reiterated today that it will be pushing ahead with its greylisting plans. UCU will ask colleagues across the country and the international academic community to support greylisting in any way possible, including:

  • non-attendance, speaking at or organising academic or other conferences at LMU
  • not applying for any advertised jobs at LMU
  • not giving lectures at LMU
  • not accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers at LMU
  • not writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by LMU
  • not taking up new contracts as external examiners for taught courses

At the end of last year LMU was hit by a £15 million reduction in its recurring grant, and repayment demands totalling more than £36 million by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) following submissions of incorrect student completion records. The university responded by saying it intended to cut 550 posts. Despite UCU's best efforts over the last nine months to persuade the university to enter into formal negotiations to reach a resolution, the university is forging ahead with the redundancies.

The situation at London Metropolitan University is unprecedented. Vice-chancellor, Brian Roper, resigned in March and a special report into HEFCE's role in the crisis at LMU was published earlier this month. After months of public pressure from UCU, including two strike days, Deloitte Touche has been commissioned to undertake an independent inquiry into the situation at LMU.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The staff and the students at LMU deserve a new leadership and new, open and productive industrial relations. Yet, in spite of our calls for a suspension of their proposals until after the independent reports have been made public, the management appears dogmatically committed to press on with its plans to make 550 redundancies.

'We cannot stand back and allow this university to be destroyed. We cannot stand by and allow hundreds of staff and students pay the price for a catastrophic failure of management and governance. It is unacceptable for staff to pay for mismanagement with their jobs and students to suffer huge detriment to their education and we must establish the principle that universities must be accountable for their actions.

'Therefore we are left with little alternative but to impose the most serious of sanctions, greylisting, on LMU. UCU remains committed to a negotiated solution and we hope that management will back away from a course which we believe will threaten the long-term future of the University.'

Last updated: 11 December 2015