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Universities are swimming in cash but are refusing to negotiate - time to pile on the pressure!

17 May 2023

Today we launch our analysis of the university sector's finances. The income in our sector has reached a new high of £44.6bn in 2022. At the same time universities have spent less on staff than the previous year.

Our analysis dismantles spin from UCEA that financial pressures mean universities simply cannot afford to pay you properly. UCEA continues to use the financial pressures faced by a few, as a pretext for refusing to pay staff across the sector their fair share, all the while failing to lobby government for a fairer funding model.

Meanwhile, UCEA has written to us saying that they will not negotiate with us unless we call off the marking and assessment boycott (MAB). Let me be absolutely clear - they are running scared.

It is clear the MAB is biting. Vice-chancellors across the UK are feeling the pressure through the media, from students, and most importantly from your action. We are seeing more and more institutions backing down from punitive deduction threats with branches following our escalation strategy.

Our action, and the solidarity we are receiving, is working. Now is not the time to blink. We will table plans at the union's annual congress next week to escalate this dispute. Now is the moment to pile on the pressure.

Alongside the industrial strategy we are also increasing the defence of our members financially. In addition to the money that is already ringfenced for the MAB, we have taken a number of further decisions:

  • we have added £750,000 into the fighting fund this month to support members facing 100% deductions
  • we will continue to do so for the duration of the MAB up to £3,000,000
  • from 1 May we have increased the number of days that members can claim from the fighting fund to 20.

We will back every single member who backs their union.

We also want to continue to encourage all members who are not in the MAB to donate to their local hardship fund. Local hardship funds provide central and rapid support for members, so please also contact your branch.

Our escalation strategy remains in place for branches facing deduction threats and we are backing strike action where necessary to force employers to back down.

Together, we will win this dispute.

In solidarity

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

Last updated: 17 May 2023