UCU Scotland Congress 2017

31 March 2017, Stirling Court Hotel, University of Stirling

Resolutions of the 11th UCU Scotland Congress

1. Word limit for UCU Scotland Congress motions and amendments

Congress agrees to insert a new paragraph 2 in section 6, Order of Business of the Standing Orders of UCU Scotland Congress:

2. Motions must be no longer than 150 words, not including titles: in order to facilitate the ordering of business, submitting bodies may include titles to motions of not more than 10 words. Amendments must be no longer than 75 words, not counting rubrics or words to be deleted. There shall be no word limits for motions to amend the rules or amendments thereto.

2. Qualifying employment: UCU Scotland elections

UCU Scotland notes the requirement for UCU Scotland rules to be consistent with UCU UK rules. To this end, Congress agrees to insert a new rule 5d. in Schedule A of the UCU Scotland Rules:

5 Every nomination to a vacancy for the office of Vice-President, Honorary Treasurer, Equality Officer or ordinary member of the Executive Committee must be supported by:

d.   a statement confirming that, at the time of nomination, the candidate is in qualifying employment, or has been in qualifying employment within the preceding 12 months and shall provide proof of such qualifying employment, normally in the form of a payslip dated within the preceding 12 months, or as otherwise determined by the returning officer. If geographical and/or sectoral criteria apply, these should be reflected in the proof of qualifying employment; (N.B. Qualifying employment refers to persons in full, part-time or self-employment whose work is concerned with the provision or professional support of education, training or research in the Further Education/ Learning and Skills Sector or in Higher Education institutions based in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as defined in national UCU rule 3.1.1)

3. Brexit

Congress notes that the decision for the UK to leave the EU will have profound consequences for the economy and particularly Scottish higher education, where 16% of staff are EU nationals rising to 23% for research only staff, and where over 13,000 EU nationals study at undergraduate level.

Congress also notes that Scottish higher education institutions received over €111 million from the EU Horizon 2020 research funding in the first 18 months of the project up to mid-2015.

Congress welcomes UCU's involvement in the recent 'One Day Without Us' initiative, and believes UCU has a key role to play in combatting xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment in the post Brexit period. Congress further welcomes the publication of UCU's post Brexit charter.

Congress condemns the use of EU nationals working in higher education and elsewhere in the UK as 'bargaining chips', and further condemns the xenophobic language of much of the debate around Brexit since the vote. Congress therefore:

  • Calls on UCU Scotland branches to support local staff, and to pressurise university managements to ensure they do not act as external agents of the Borders Agency in their dealings with staff and students;
  • Calls on UCU Scotland to actively support endeavours and campaign to give a unilateral guarantee to EU nationals living in the UK at a reasonable cut-off date permanent residence rights post Brexit;
  • Supports Sophie in 't Veld MEP's intention to set a European Parliament cross-party taskforce to investigate EU nationals experiences of UK permanent residence procedures;
  • Calls for the removal of the requirement that EU nationals must have comprehensive sickness insurance in order to qualify as exercising their treaty rights as self-sufficient residents;
  • Calls on UCU Scotland members to write to MPs and MSPs from all parties to demand they give voice to the positive case for immigration; and
  • Calls on UCU Scotland to pressurise the Scottish and UK governments to seek associate country status for Horizon 2020 and EU research networks.

4. Brexit

UCU Scotland notes that

  • The Scottish electorate voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union;
  • The UK government looks likely to implement a 'hard Brexit' including removing the UK from EFTA and all agreements including those important to higher education;
  • The decision to implement Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the UK government has already created uncertainty for citizens of EU countries outwith the UK, working and studying at Scottish institutions.
  • The impact of a hard Brexit on Scottish universities would be very significant, removing opportunities to recruit staff and students, access research funding, participate in research and educational collaboration and restricting travel.

UCU Scotland Congress therefore calls on the UK and Scottish Governments to use every endeavour to ensure Scotland's universities and colleges remain full participants of European agreements affecting further and higher education, to support the rights of European staff and students at Scotland's universities, and to protect access to EU and international funding streams for higher education.

5. Freedom of Movement

UCU Scotland notes that UCU is committed to campaigning 'for no change in the immigration status of EU residents if UK leaves EU.' Given the current threats to freedom of movement within the European Economic Area UCU Scotland resolves to campaign with UNISON and other unions for:

  1. Free movement of labour and against Points-Based Immigration Schemes
  2. The right of EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay
  3. Full recognition of workers' rights throughout EU withdrawal negotiations
  4. Removal of international students from net migration targets

 UCUS further resolves to

  1. Lobby Principals and VCs publicly to guarantee that for the indefinite future there will be no change in the employment or student status (including fee conditions) of EU/EEA staff and students
  2. Affiliate to the Free Movement of Labour - Campaign to defend freedom of movement across Europe post-Brexit
  3. Propose this motion to STUC Congress.

6. Tackling racism

Congress notes the alarming rise of racism and xenophobia towards international workers in the UK and stands in support of our international members, both EU and non EU citizens.

Congress stands in support of the "One Day Without Us", "Stand Up To Racism", and "Three Million Movement" campaigns and against current UK immigration law, which victimises international workers in tier 2 and 5 visas. Congress also stands in support of all BME colleagues who suffer racism and discrimination both in and outside the workplace.

Congress notes that UK government policies on universities are leading to institutional racism and despite university senior managements raising concerns, policies are being implemented in ways that collude in institutional racism. In particular, congress condemns the continuing implementation of Prevent in Scottish universities, and the surveillance which universities are employing in order to comply with UKVI restrictions on students and staff.

Congress therefore calls on the UCU Scotland Executive and officers to escalate their challenge to laws which contribute to institutional racism in Scotland and where possible prevent their implementation, including supporting members who refuse to cooperate with any activities which legitimise institutional racism which are being implemented by university management.

Congress further calls on UCU Scotland to encourage the participation of international members in UCU governance bodies and committees, both nationally and locally.

7. Prevent

Congress notes the positive work done by UCU Scotland, in campaigning against Prevent, by campus meetings, liaison with Student Associations, involvement in the Students not Suspects initiative and by demanding the right to be 'observers' in local and Scottish Prevent groups, in order to argue for the abolition of the act, and pending this, its minimal application in Scottish universities.

Congress believes that this approach has had some success in preventing the act being implemented to the extent that it has south of the border.

Congress believes that:

  • Intelligence and security agencies and police should have no role in shaping or monitoring political discourse in Scotland.
  • The Prevent strategy's construction and coercive promotion of 'British values' is racist, Islamophobic and reactionary and is particularly inappropriate for Scotland.
  • The UK Government's attempt to determine what Muslims may and may not believe damages civil society, amounts to social engineering, and is unacceptable.
  • Universities, in interpreting the requirement under Section 26 of the CTSA to "have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism", should ensure that they also comply fully with their obligations under the Human Rights Act and with other equality and human rights principles and policies, and ensure that university staff are informed of these obligations, principles and policies and of the threat to them posed by Prevent

Congress therefore re-iterates its call for the act to be scrapped, and pledges to work with other similar minded organisations such as the STUC, EIS and Unison to promote this aim.

8. Funding and widening access

Congress welcomes the appointment of a Commissioner for Fair Access to Higher Education, and looks forward to constructive engagement between the Commissioner and Trade Unions. However, Congress notes the 1% cut to the higher education budget in the recent budget, following on from a 3% cut in 2016/17. Congress further notes that, in the past year, we have seen job losses, and either threatened or actual compulsory redundancies in a quarter of Scotland's higher education institutions.

Congress broadly supports the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access but notes that key to delivering improved access are the staff that teach and support students, and that the recommendations will only be delivered if those staff are in place and able to do their jobs supporting students.

Congress also notes the Sutton Trust's 2016 report, Access in Scotland, which found significant challenges for students from poorer backgrounds to access university education including that the most advantaged students are four times more likely to go to university than the least advantaged and acknowledges the important role of colleges in improving access opportunities for disadvantaged students. Congress believes that reserving a certain number of places for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is an effective way of increasing their representation.

However, Congress believes that widening access to higher education should be more ambitious than the Commission for Widening Access recommendations advocates. Higher Education provides a benefit to the whole of society, not just those who have the opportunity, or the desire, to study full time at university. The objectives of widening access should therefore not be restricted to simply increasing the proportion of students on mainstream courses from targeted under-represented groups.

Congress therefore:

  • Calls on the UCU Scotland Executive and Officers, in their discussions with the Commissioner for Fair Access and in their lobbying and campaigning activities, to ensure support for university staff and education campaigners, and to advocate for a more inclusive understanding of widening access, which embraces access to the educational resources of universities of the whole of society, including provision of adult education, informal learning, outreach courses and social engagement of university staff; and
  • Calls on UCU Scotland to continue campaigning for the Scottish Government to appropriately fund all areas of education from pre-school, school, college, adult, community and workers' education and higher education so that the whole of society benefits from education at all levels irrespective of ability of birth.

9. Teaching Excellence Framework

UCU Scotland is deeply concerned about the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework. While we recognise the need for and are committed to enhancing the quality of teaching in our universities, it is hard to see how the TEF will either measure quality or improve it. In particular, Congress is concerned about the use of flawed, proxy metrics as indicators of 'teaching quality', and the increased bureaucracy and game playing that will result. The inclusion, in the TEF, of National Student Survey scores, used to measure overall satisfaction, demonstrates that the TEF is not about the quality of teaching. It is clear that the overall objective of the TEF is to create an artificial competitive market based on spurious metrics which have nothing to do with pedagogical quality or educational experience, and which is linked to tuition fees and a desire to see a two tier higher education system. We also believe that the introduction of the TEF will significantly undermine the linkages between teaching, scholarship and research embedded within higher education.

Therefore UCU Scotland welcomes the two thirds of HEIs in Scotland that have not signed up to TEF, and calls on the five HEIs that have to withdraw from the process, recognising that the sophisticated quality assurance schemes currently in place in Scotland suit the Scottish context better, particularly in terms of the four year degree.

10. Fees and funding

Congress notes the 1% cut to the higher education budget in the 2017/18 draft budget, following on from a 3% cut in 2016/17.  Congress further notes that in the past year we have seen job losses, and either threatened or actual compulsory redundancies in a quarter of Scotland's higher education institutions and recognises that university managements will use budget cuts as an excuse to cut further jobs despite many institutions having healthy reserves.  Congress calls on the executive of UCU Scotland to continue to support branches in opposing job losses wherever they are proposed and to continue to defend members' interests by campaigning for a settlement for higher education which puts the sector on a firm financial footing, while maintaining free tuition and expanding access to higher education in line with the finding of the Commission on Widening Access.

11. Concerns over proposals to change how the SFC functions

Congress notes with concern the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Scottish Funding Council and its place in the Higher Education landscape.

Congress believes that an arms-length body such as the SFC is extremely valuable in allowing dialogue between university staff, students, management and the funding body, over issues of priorities, without the direct involvement of the Scottish Government. We believe that the SFC should retain its present independence from Government.

Congress asks the Scottish Executive to continue our dialogue with concerned bodies to ensure the best outcome for the SFC and the future funding of the sector.

12. Senior pay at Scottish universities

Congress notes with anger the continuing scandal of senior pay and perks at Scottish universities, while staff wages stagnate and staff workload increases.

Congress notes that 3 Scottish principals - Strathclyde University's Jim McDonald received £360,000, Aberdeen University's Ian Diamond received £352,000, and Glasgow's Anton Muscatelli received £322,000, placing them amongst the UK's top 50 earners in HE.

Congress also notes that 21 Senior Staff earned over £200,000 at Edinburgh University, with 182 on between £100,000 and £200,000. At Glasgow University 5 senior staff earned over £200,000 and 152 earned more than £100,000.

Congress again notes that in terms of heads of institutions spending on flights, hotels and expenses, Strathclyde University's principal was the third biggest spender in the UK on £29,163, and was joined in the top 20 highest spenders on air fares by Glasgow's Professor Anton Muscatelli, Edinburgh Napier's Professor Andrea Nolan, and Glasgow Caledonian University's Professor Pamela Gillies

Congress condemns this profligate use of public money and re-iterates our demand that remuneration committees in Scotland should contain representatives of staff and students and that minutes of remuneration committees should be made publicly available, including detailed reasoning for pay increases.

13. Reclaiming our Universities

Congress notes the activities of the 'Reclaiming our University' movement where staff and students in some universities have raised the call for fundamental reform of the principles, ethos and organisation of Higher Education, with the aim of 'restoring universities to the communities in which they belong', fulfilling their civic purposes in a manner appropriate to our times, and operating in the defence of democracy, peaceful coexistence and human flourishing'.

This has become even more relevant with the expansion of the definition of Academic Freedom following the passage of the recent Higher Education Governance Act.

Congress welcomes this discussion, and believes that such a project will have the greatest possibility of success if the trade union movement in the sector engages more fully with these concepts and ideas and helps promote a discussion amongst staff, in the wider university community, and with our colleagues in the student movement to this end.

Congress also believes that many of these ideas have echoes in the efforts to democratise governance of Scotland's universities following the Von Prondzynski report.

Congress therefore asks the Scottish Executive and branches locally, to consider how best to engage with this development.

14. Implementing the legislation on governance of higher education

Congress welcomes the legislation on democratising Higher Education, passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016, and congratulates those involved in bringing the legislation successfully from concept into law.

Congress notes that how the legislation will be implemented will be crucial in determining the extent to which the aims of the act are realised in practice. Congress notes that leaving such change to the university courts themselves has led to inadequate change in the past, resulting in a code of governance 'written by managers, for managers'.

Congress therefore ask the Scottish Executive to identify UCU members who serve as staff on university Courts and aim for the best exchange of information with these members on how change is being proposed for implementation at a local level.

Congress asks the Scottish Executive, after suitable consultation to draw up guidelines for best practice in terms of issues such as the election of chairs, the implications of Trade Union nominees on Courts, the need for Senates to consist of a majority of elected reps of staff and students.

15. Gender pay

Congress notes research carried out by UCU that shows that four Scottish universities - Aberdeen, Glasgow, St Andrews, and UHI - we amongst the worst in the UK for paying women employees less than their male counterparts, and that the average shortfall across the UK was £6,103. Scottish institutions were over represented in the list of worst offenders, accounting for fifteen per cent of those named.

Congress believes that 50 years after the Equal Pay Act this situation remains intolerable and calls on all bodies with influence in the sector to bring pressure to bear on employers to take practical action to address the situation.

Congress notes the issue was a factor in the strike action taken by UCU members throughout 2016 in their dispute with the universities employer organisation and that UCU branches will be continuing to take action and campaign on the issue in the months to come.

Congress calls on UCU Scotland to:

  • Work with other unions campaigning over pay inequality;
  • Arrange for an early discussion on the issue at the Executive to examine how best to improve the situation between now and the 2018 UCU Scotland congress.
  • Work with and promote the Close the Gap project's work and campaigns; and
  • Continue to press the Scottish Government to get employers to take definite actions to close the gender pay gap.

16. Workload and work-related stress

UCU Scotland Congress commends the publication of UCU's Workload Survey Report and endorses the report's findings. The HE headline findings report the following changes over the last three years:

  • 42.8% - working hours increased significantly
  • 83.1% - pace of intensity of work increased
  • 2.6% - workload is entirely manageable

Congress notes that these figures come at a time where staff costs for HEIs form a decreasing portion the overall budgets, with Universities choosing to invest significant funds in new buildings.

Increased workload and workload intensity is linked to stress and ill health for staff and is ultimately unsustainable. UCU recognises the work and commitment of members who have campaigned to ensure University workplaces and practices are not detrimental to physical or mental health. Health and safety is rightly a priority for our union.

Numerous factors including workload, but also including performance management, managerialism, and precarious employment have contributed to growing numbers of colleagues being medically unfit for work due to work-related stress. However, employers have been slow to tackle work related mental health issues or to identify steps to support safer working.

Congress believes that by collectivising the issue of work-related stress, UCU can highlight poor practices, support members, and tackle the underlying causes of work-related stress.

Congress:

  • Mandates the Officers and Executive to make workloads a key campaign priority, to present the UCU survey to the Cabinet Secretary and demand a response from University Principals and Universities Scotland.
  • Calls on UCU Scotland to urge HESA to introduce an annual sector wide survey of all university staff, to include the HSE Management Standards Indicator questionnaire, and that HEIs be required to collect data on work-related stress absences as part of their HESA return.

17. Use of student evaluation data in performance management

Congress notes with concern the University of Edinburgh's recent roll-out of student course questionnaires which request students to evaluate individual staff members, with the resulting data to be made available for performance monitoring and promotions.

Congress notes the extensive research showing that such processes:

  1. Position students as consumers of, rather than participants in, their education
  2. In so doing, damage the student/staff relationship
  3. Have an overall negative impact on teaching quality
  4. Exacerbate existing inequalities due to the bias students bring to staff evaluation
  5. Cause widespread and unnecessary stress to already overworked staff members

Congress believes that extending the use of consumer satisfaction-style surveys, and using the resultant data to inform key decisions about individuals' careers, reflects an increasing commercialisation of the sector which is to the eventual detriment of all staff and students.

Congress resolves:

  1. To investigate and collate the international research evidence about the effects of using student evaluation data to inform staff performance monitoring and promotions
  2.  To work with branches to halt further extensions of such processes
  3. To support branches in making the case for more pedagogically robust models of course evaluations which involve students as interactive partners in their learning.

18. Combating the rise of arbitrary and bureaucratic performance management tools

In 2015-2016 Glasgow School of Art introduced a new policy - Annual Research Planning.  Described as a "pilot" there was the promise of staff being able to feedback on, and improve its implementation. This didn't happen. Instead staff lost research time without qualitative feedback. Others received enhanced research time without adequate resources. A host of issues emerged: inequalities, excessive workloads, unsustainable staff-student ratios, and use of casualised staff. Break-through concessions were only achieved when GSA was taken to the brink of industrial action by UCU.

GSA appears to be now failing to deliver on these promises, whilst actively encouraging staff to participate in a flawed process, which is effectively, an attempt at performance management.

This motion urges

  • GSA to honour its agreement with UCU as a matter of urgency
  • UCU to campaign against the growth of these divisive performance management tools

These tools intentionally lack transparency and clear accountability, leading to negative impacts on stress and health, learning and teaching, research culture and academic freedom.

19. Health and Safety (H&S) Reps

UCU Scotland notes that:

  • H&S does not just cover building infrastructure and that UCU has taken a lead in including stress, bullying and harassment.
  • H&S reps are guaranteed paid work time to carry out their functions and there is no limit on their number.

 UCU Scotland encourages branches to:

  • Aim to recruit at least one H&S rep for each building, school or staff group, as appropriate.
  • Encourage women, disabled, black and LGBT+ members to become H&S reps
  • Encourage networking and sharing of experience between the different H&S reps.

20. Accessibility

UCU Scotland draws attention to legal responsibility of universities to make all facilities accessible, including through the use of reasonable adjustments.

UCU Scotland recognises both the importance of full accessibility to wheelchair/scooter users and that accessibility goes well beyond this and the different needs of different groups of disabled people.

UCU Scotland notes that changes in policies practices and procedures, included those intended to make things easier for members of staff, can sometimes unintended negative and potentially serious consequences for disabled members.

UCU Scotland encourages branches to negotiate with or put pressure management to:

  1. Carry out regular accessibility audits of all buildings and facilities with the involvement trade union equality reps and disabled members with a variety of different requirements. The results should be made publicly available and any identified problems rectified immediately.
  2. Carry out full accessibility audits of any proposed new buildings and/or facilities or modifications to existing ones with the involvement of trade union equality reps and disabled members with a variety of different requirements. The results should be made publicly available and design changes should be implemented to rectify any identified problems.
  3. Carry out extensive consultation on any new policies, practices and procedures, including with trade unions and disabled members of staff with a variety of different requirements.
  4. Carry out local consultation, particularly with disabled members of staff, when any changes in practices or procedures are implemented

21. Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) Valuation

UCU Scotland believes that the USS Board adopted a recklessly prudent approach to scheme funding in the lead-up to the 2014 triennial valuation and that this has been the driving force for increases to employer and employee contributions and cuts to members' pension benefits.

UCU Scotland notes that UCU commissioned expert advice and used this to suggest an alternative approach to that adopted by the USS Board. Adopting UCU's alternative approach could have reduced the deficit in the 2014 valuation by around £8.6bn. It is also noted that some universities also questioned the valuation methodology.

UCU Scotland encourages branches to:

  1. Raise the USS scheme funding approach through the relevant joint negotiating/consultative machinery, highlight the problems with the current approach; asking for the employer to agree that USS should adopt a reasonable interpretation of the available evidence when setting the approach to scheme funding;
  2. Write to their Principal asking for the HEI to join with UCU in reviewing the USS funding methodology;
  3. Encourage members to raise the USS scheme funding approach at other institutional bodies (i.e. Academic Board, School and College meetings);
  4. Call on their Principal to write to USS questioning the funding approach

22. Benchmark standards for University Social Responsibility across the EHEA

Congress reiterates its interest in and support for The Benchmark Standards for University Social Responsibility across the European Higher Education Area. It congratulates the UK National Union of Students for securing EU funding to engage the European Union of Students in further trialing of these Standards. It notes that to progress the standards further it would be helpful for UCU Scotland to participate in refining the draft standards with a view to adopting and promoting the final, agreed, version. With that in mind, Congress instructs the UCU Scotland Executive to seek a volunteer or volunteers to join a working group with NUS and ESU to assist in further developing the draft standards and thereafter to consider the final standards, with a view to promoting them in Scottish HEIs through the union's branch structure.

23. SUSPS and Support for Palestine

Congress notes with satisfaction the successful public debate on the pros and cons of academic boycotts of Israel, and urges UCU members to make use of the online report [https://ucuscotland.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/report-of-seminar-looking-at-the-pros-and-cons-of-a-boycott-of-israeli-universities/].

In the light of the urgent need to offer practical support to hard-pressed Palestinian students, Congress further instructs Executive to revisit its support for SUSPS [Scottish Universities Supporting Palestinian Students] with view to (a) enhancing its financial support and (b) providing other assistance as appropriate.

24. Just Transition

Congress reaffirms its support to a Just Transition to a low-carbon economy, in ways which protect workers' livelihoods, create a new industrial base and deliver a fairer Scotland.

Congress welcomes:

  • The establishment of a Scottish Just Transition coalition working for an industrial policy for Just Transition in Scotland.
  • UCU Scotland's participation in the coalition following a resolution passed at Congress 2016.
  • The successful Just Transition conference in December 2016 and publication of a joint statement on Just Transition between UCU Scotland, UNITE, UNISON, PCS, CWU, WWF Scotland, the STUC, and Friends of the Earth Scotland, which UCU members played a key role in bringing together.

Congress calls on UCU Scotland:

  • To work with members affected by a move to a low carbon economy, other trade unions, and environmentalists to ensure that the change to a low carbon economy is one which is fair and just to all workers employed in those sectors affected; and
  • To investigate the potential role which universities and their employees can play in a Just Transition, and explore the feasibility and desirability of holding an event in Aberdeen on Just Transition.

25. Funding postgraduate and post-doc students

Congress notes that support for a new generation of staff will be crucial in ensuring the future of the higher education sector. Congress also notes that this involves adequate resourcing and investment by universities in the working conditions of Postgrad and PostDoc students, including a suitable stipend and their ability to attend relevant conferences.

Congress notes the need for an updated postgraduate charter and asks the Scottish executive to enter into discussions with postgraduate members of UCU, and with NUS Scotland and others over this issue.

Congress also asks the Scottish Executive to give a higher commitment to work with postgraduate students, including the possible provision of places, through co-option or otherwise, for a postgraduate rep or reps on the Scottish Executive, and encourages Branch Committees to likewise make provision for postgrad reps at a local level.

26. The implications of increasing devolution in higher education

Congress notes the continuing divergence in the UK Higher Education landscape and congratulates the UCU's efforts at a national level to successfully consider the implications of such changes, through the operation of the UCU Devolution Sub-Committee.

Congress asks the Scottish Executive to consider how to better improve interaction at a Scottish level with UCU Wales/Cymraeg and UCU Northern Ireland in order that the insights on education within the devolved nations can be better shared

27. Post 16 Education - the need for a better integrated strategy from UCU

Congress notes that 20 percent of Higher Education is currently being delivered in Scotland through the Further Education sector, and notes the work of our sister unions who organise in that sector to ensure adequate funding and better conditions for staff in FE.

Congress notes that changes in FE structures, funding, and development inevitably impact on the Higher Education sector and therefore calls on our union to pay more heed to developments in FE in Scotland, in order to promote the development of an overall Post 16 education sector that better meets the needs of students, staff and communities that they serve.

To that end Congress asks the Scottish executive to consult with and support our members employed in the FE sector and to consult with other concerned organisations as to the current and future prospects for a better integrated and funded post 16 sector.

28. Work with the STUC and HE/FE Committee

Congress notes with concern the failure of the STUC FE/HE committee to meet regularly and calls on the Scottish Executive to consider how best to improve our work and co-ordination with sister unions across the sector and within the structures of the STUC.

29. TU Victimisation

Congress is appalled at the victimisation of two local UCU branch officers at Robert Gordon University. The President (Bill Craig) and Honorary Secretary (Lesley C McIntosh) of the branch have been called to separate investigation meetings as part of a Disciplinary procedure, alleging misconduct in student support and trade union representation matters, respectively.

This has occurred without any informal discussion to clear up any misunderstandings and threatens the existence of the local branch.

This is at a time when both branch officers are representing members with their cases and are consulting with RGU on changes to academic regrading across the University.

Congress therefore resolves to fully support the branch officers in defence of their UCU roles and academic positions and help them fight for their rights as UCU reps and academics.

MOTIONS REMITTED TO THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

R1 Scottish universities' financial position

Audit of Scotland's universities shows wide variation in their financial position. Some generate large surpluses and have accumulated substantial financial reserves. This Congress believes that the Scottish Funding Council has a duty to consider the overall health of the Scottish higher education sector, which requires a system of redistribution in order to support the collective viability of Scotland's universities. Congress calls on the UCU Scotland executive and officers to lobby the SFC to review its funding mechanisms and support measures that would reduce inequalities in funding between universities rather than exacerbating them. This would preserve the overall viability of Scottish higher education and maintain the highest possible level of access and choice to Scottish students.

R2 Winning industrial action under the new anti-trade union legislation

Congress congratulates UCU branches and the Scottish executive on the work undertaken during our recent industrial action, but notes that despite our best efforts we were unsuccessful in achieving more than the 1.1% pay increase imposed on us by management.

Congress notes nevertheless that issues of the gender pay gap and anti-casualisation remain on the table for continuing discussion with local managements and at a national level.

Congress notes that under the new anti-trade union legislation there will be increasing difficulties in launching industrial action of the type we have undertaken in recent years without a much greater involvement by branch members both in the ballot and in activity locally and nationally

Congress believes that key to members involvement is the creation of a union culture that is welcoming as well as combative, and that the Scottish Executive should discuss how best to create the type of culture that makes union involvement the norm for staff in Higher Education.

R3 Support for the UCU Scotland Retired Members' Branch

Congress notes the ongoing activities of the UCU Scotland Retired Members Branch (UCUSRMB); the branch's willingness to assist other branches and UCU Scotland EC wherever possible; and its thanks to UCU Scotland and to Edinburgh UCU in particular for support. It urges Executive to meet UCUSRMB officers to discuss providing further support, including, where this could be advantageous, modest, targeted financial assistance, with the particular aim of encouraging UCU members to remain a member on retirement and to consider participation where possible in the discussions and/or activities of UCUSRMB.

WITHDRAWN MOTION

W1 Reference Motion 19 from UCU Scotland Congress 2016

Congress 2017 congratulates NUS UK and its partners on securing EU funding to take forward the Benchmark Standards on University Social Responsibility in a series of student-led audits over the next three years. Further, 

  1. it formally adopts these Standards as appropriate Benchmarks for Scottish HEIs to evidence compliance with
  2. it instructs officers & officials to create a working group (to include relevant members) to seek and progress exploratory meetings with NUS UK and NUS Scotland to identify how student and staff unions might work together to (i) promote awareness of the Standards across Scottish HEIs, (ii) persuade the Scottish Government and SFC to endorse the Standards and (iii) convince individual Scottish HEIs to adopt them. 
Last updated: 25 March 2019