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In the news 25 October 2019

Nottingham College "in crisis" after public rebuke from local politicians

It was a bad weekend for Nottingham College after they were labelled "crisis college" on the front page of the Nottingham Post, following a stinging rebuke from 33 city councillors. The local politicians said they found it "quite incredulous" that staff are being forced to consider more strikes. The damning letter also highlighted the "staggering lack of trust" staff have in the college, which left one councillor calling on the CEO to consider his position.

UCU members have already taken 15 strike days this term and are gearing up for a further 14 days from Tuesday 5 November. The row centres on the college's plans to impose contracts which would remove guarantees about workloads, leave some staff more than £1,000 a year worse off and cut holiday entitlement.

Earlier this month staff delivered a unanimous vote of no confidence in the CEO and board, while students at the college have publicly declared their support for the staff and over 4,400 people have signed a petition demanding staff are given fair contracts.

 

UCU says more must be done to stamp out racial harassment

Responding to a damning report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), UCU said universities must do more to stamp out racial harassment. The report said that racial harassment was a "common occurrence for many students and staff in British universities" and accused some institutions of refusing to recognise the scale of the issue and putting their reputation above tackling the problem.

Speaking to the Independent, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'There must be a zero-tolerance approach to racial harassment in and around our universities. Universities have to recognise the scale of the problem and take serious steps to deal with it, and to support those who come forward or are affected by it.

The news comes just a week after UCU analysis found that black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in universities are less likely to hold senior jobs and are paid less than their white colleagues.

 

UCU calls on Home Office to review decision to deport Leicester-based academic

UCU has called on the Home Office to urgently review its decision to deport Leicester-based academic Dr Furaha Asani to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Dr Asani has never been to the DRC, has no friends or family there and does not speak the official language. Although she holds a DRC passport, Dr Asani was born and raised in Nigeria before she moved to the UK to undertake her PhD, and has since spent several years working as a medical researcher at the University of Leicester.

In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the union said that sending Dr Asani to an unfamiliar country where she has no support network and doesn't speak the language would place her in an extremely vulnerable position.

UCU said Dr Asani's case was symptomatic of an aggressive approach to immigration that lacks compassion and nuance, and said the government's "hostile environment" policy is creating significant hurdles for international staff. It said the UK needs to send a clear message that international staff are welcome in our universities, and called for coordinated action from the government to tackle the practical and financial barriers facing international staff and students wishing to work and study in the UK.

 

Campaigns, mobilisation, fighting for solutions - Jo Grady sets out her priorities in two-part interview

In a two-part interview with Union News this week, Jo Grady talks about how her background shaped her politics and what her priorities are now for the union. She talks about campaigning and organising and how we can adopt best practices from abroad and closer to home.

Jo reflects on her UK-wide tour of branches that comes to an end on Monday and explains the anger behind members being balloted over pay, pensions and working conditions in higher education. She talks about her own experience of academia and how the marketisation of higher education accelerated her involvement with the union.

Last updated: 25 October 2019

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