HE national disputes 2021

Boycott Leicester

Staff vote no confidence in University of Leicester vice-chancellor and board, with 145 jobs under threat

26 January 2021

UCU members overwhelmingly backed a vote of no confidence in the University of Leicester's vice chancellor and executive board on Monday (25 January), in response to a threat of widespread redundancies.

At a meeting attended by over 200 staff, the University of Leicester UCU branch agreed the decision by university leadership to push ahead with redundancies amid the Covid crisis was 'cruel and divisive.' The union also unanimously passed a motion declaring its willingness to ballot for sustained industrial action to stop the job cuts.

University managers, led by vice chancellor Nishan Canagarajah, have said up to 145 staff are at risk of redundancy, with around 60 of those 145 likely to lose their jobs. UCU said that the cuts would not only risk the livelihoods of staff, but also damage academic freedom and worsen students' learning conditions. University leaders are targeting particular subjects for cuts, including early modern and medieval literature, pure maths, and political economy.

A freedom of information request shows that between March and September last year, the University of Leicester made 162 redundancies, many of them impacting casualised staff.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: 'Axing jobs is wrong at the best of times, but for the University of Leicester to do so in the middle of this pandemic is particularly vindictive and self-defeating. After working flat out to keep the university running throughout the Covid crisis, 145 staff are being rewarded with threats to their jobs and livelihoods.

'In planning to shut down entire courses, the university is also imperilling its international reputation. Singling out specific disciplines for cuts harms academic freedom, and will diminish both teaching and research. The vice chancellor and executive board must withdraw the threats of redundancies, and guarantee the job security of all staff in affected departments.'

Leicester UCU chair Sarah Seaton said: 'The vice chancellor has said that now is the "perfect moment" for the university to "shape for excellence". But staff are now facing a triple workload crisis. We were overworked before Covid. Then we struggled through the pandemic, continuing to educate and support our students, even as university managers abandoned hundreds of our casualised colleagues. Now they are threatening 145 more staff with the chop. We are all working around the clock to support our students and each other. The university cannot afford to make any of us redundant.'

Last updated: 27 January 2021