Strike action in higher education

Damning vote of no confidence in University of Surrey vice-chancellor

17 May 2019 | last updated: 22 May 2019

Staff at the University of Surrey have delivered a damning vote of no confidence* in their vice-chancellor Max Lu and the university's executive board. 96% of staff who voted said they had no confidence in the vice-chancellor and the board. The vote was called following the publication of controversial plans to axe staff in an effort to make savings.

Professor Lu has cited Brexit, a competitive student market, pensions and a review of student finance that has not yet been completed as reasons behind his plans. The union said in its view the case for cuts had not been made and staff needed to have the 'spectre of uncertainty' removed.

UCU has also raised concerns about the use of language which suggests staff are a cost rather than an asset. The union says that savings of £15m have already been made but the university is still refusing to rule out compulsory redundancies. The union has also questioned plans to close courses in areas including theatre performance, dance and digital arts where student applications are healthy.

The union has demanded an assurance that no staff will be compulsorily dismissed and that no staff on a fixed-term or hourly-paid contract will suffer a drop in hours as a result of the proposed cuts.

Students at the university are also holding a referendum on the university's top team. The result of that poll is expected this evening.

UCU regional official Michael Moran said: 'Staff are unconvinced by the case put forward by the university to justify these swingeing cuts as this damning vote of no-confidence makes clear. We want a full transparent examination of the university's case and we want assurances in place now to remove the spectre of uncertainty hanging over staff.

'It is not good enough for a university to pluck reasons out of the air to justify such drastic changes and provide no guarantees on jobs. The university needs to make its case with data and evidence; something it has categorically refused to do so far.'

Last year Max Lu was making headlines for using £1,600 of university money to relocate his pet dog from Australia to the UK.


* Full results

96% of staff who voted said yes to the question 'Do you support this vote of no confidence in the Vice-Chancellor and Executive Board?'
Yes 95.7%
No 4.3%

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