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Higher Education Sector Conference

18 May 2023

UCU Congress 2023: Sunday 28 May 2023, 09:00-18:00

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU2068). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

(EP) advisory marking denoting UCU existing policy

To be taken in private session

New JNCHES and pay

HE1  National Claim/New JNCHES - Higher education committee 

HE sector conference notes the report and approves the recommendations of the national negotiators contained in UCUBANHE84 (New JNCHES HESC2023).


HE2  Bargaining over increased money pay not percentages - University of Leeds

Conference notes:

  1. 2021/22's HE joint union claim that sought 'A pay uplift of £2,500 on all pay points'

Conference believes that:`

  1. problems of eroded pay, structural inequalities and casualisation intersect
  2. thus, marginalised groups are less likely to be able to mitigate the impact of eroded pay for university staff through means of promotion and 'automatic' progression up the salary spine
  3. formulating pay claims in terms of flat-rate money increases is a way of lessening (not abolishing) these inequalities, since, for given cost to the employers, staff on below-average salaries benefit disproportionately.

Conference resolves to:

  1. develop a pay campaign for 2024/25 onwards that centres money, not percentage, increases. This would include:
    1. produce or commission research that investigates the advantages (and disadvantages) of the approach;
    2. liaise with other sector unions.


HE3  Composite: Future of pay disputes - Bangor University, University of Essex

Conference notes that 'A new strategy and plan of action for the Four Fights dispute' report (20.04.2022) outlines how a 'significant amount of time and resources needs to be committed to prepare properly for any UK-level dispute'.

Conference believes that:

  1. pay erosion is a direct consequence successive UK Tory governments failing to properly fund higher education
  2. employer movement on pay and conditions is a result of our successful aggregated ballot and action
  3. the early imposition of an offer for 2023-24 provides potential breathing space to build for an effective campaign in 2024-25, when we are also likely to have a new UK government
  4. achieving real improvements in our pay and conditions will be reliant on policy change as well as our industrial leverage.

Conference resolves to:

  1. develop an 18-24 month campaign focused on achieving significant movement on the issues beyond the current dispute, including an above inflation pay rise, concrete advances on progress related to casualisation, an end to hourly contracts, unequal pay, workload and a 35-hour working week, with a focus on growing membership and member confidence
  2. lobby UK Labour and other parties at Westminster for a renewed higher education settlement beyond 2024-25 that addresses shortfalls in funding and allows for material improvement in staff pay and conditions.


HE4  Defend national HE bargaining! - Birmingham City University

HESC notes:

  1. the dispute at BCU which has been outside national pay negotiations since the 1980s; isolating the branch and producing inferior terms and conditions
  2. BCU management's continual refusal to rejoin
  3. University of Gloucestershire, Nottingham Trent University and Staffordshire University have left or indicated they will leave national pay negotiations.

HESC believes:

  1. national negotiations are vital for UCU collective bargaining, to prevent sector fragmentation and undermining of national terms and conditions
  2. fragmentation of national negotiations is a fundamental threat to the future of HE
  3. branches fighting outside of national bargaining must be supported as a key line of resistance to fragmentation.

HESC resolves:

  1. risk to national bargaining to be dealt with as a matter of urgency with a nationally resourced strategy group
  2. GS to investigate institutions' plans to leave national negotiations
  3. disputes at branches outside of national bargaining to be given national significance in terms of resourcing and amplification.


HE5  Oxford and Cambridge Colleges and higher education disputes - University of Oxford

Conference notes:

  1. the constituent colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, have historically not been involved in higher education sector disputes
  2. this is an unusual situation, as they conduct a large proportion of the teaching in these universities, are USS employers, and in many cases have pay linked to the national pay scales
  3. industrial action leverage in Oxford and Cambridge is greatly reduced due to the continuation of teaching in the colleges during industrial action

Conference resolves:

  1. to construct future sector wide disputes in higher education in such a way that Oxford and Cambridge constituent colleges are included in the ballots and possible resulting industrial action
  2. to amend membership databases so that employees of both a university and a constituent college, have a record of this status
  3. to campaign nationally so that the constituent colleges recognise UCU.


HE6  Challenging punitive pay deductions for ASOS - Yorkshire and Humberside HE sector regional committee

Conference notes:

  1. Leeds University's plan to deduct 100% pay, and Hull University's implementation of 20% deductions for refusing to reschedule teaching missed during the Feb 2023 strikes
  2. Leeds University UCU has sought legal advice, advised members not to report their strikes via the online system and agreed to take indefinite strike action if the deductions are implemented
  3. previous motions addressing this were passed in May 2014(remitted), May 2015, Dec 2019, June 2022.

Conference re-asserts:

  1. punitive pay deductions require a UK-wide response

Conference agrees to:

  1. create a simple proforma for branches to report such threats. This should trigger an immediate UK-wide response comprising:
  • launch a UK-wide media offensive against the employer
  • calls for all members to send objections to the offensive employer
  • discussing academic boycott with the branch concerned.
  1. implement already agreed policy on this including calling UK-wide strike action.


HE7  Strike action during marking period instead of MAB - Queen Margaret University

Conference notes with concern the escalation at local level of national MAB action by some employers by punitively deducting 100% of pay of staff participating in MAB, with others deducting lower amounts, some more and some less proportionate with the time normally spent on marking and assessment.

As a result, UCU branches have had to take local strike action given that members would not be paid anyway if 100% deductions went ahead. However, given the two-week notice required for strikes, their timing means that a lot of the assessment linked activities will have been done therefore the impact of strikes is not a high as it could have been.

Conference calls for national strike action instead of MAB starting at the earliest marking and assessment date in line with when the very first deadline is set for any one university.


HE8  Supporting strike action by externally funded staff: ring-fencing deducted pay - Anti-casualisation committee

Conference believes that funding provided to employers by external bodies to support research and other staff should be dedicated to supporting these staff, including any pay deducted as a result of strike action.

Noting Branch Action Notice HE82, conference calls on employers to calculate the amount of external research funding not used to pay wages due to strike action and ring-fence a commensurate amount to support staff, especially those on casual contracts, in consultation with UCU.

Conference resolves to continue to support branches to formulate demands appropriate to their local circumstances regarding use of the ring-fenced funds. Approaches taken by branches may include a preference for (or combination of):

  1. individual contract extensions (by no less than the number of days lost to strike action) within project budgets, or
  2. the use of commensurate funds for (further) bridging/underwriting, extended notice/redeployment periods, or enhanced redundancy payments.


L3  Blacklisting -  Dundee University

Conference notes: 

  1. Dundee is threatening to deduct 100% for participating in the MAB
  2. changes to the Academic Regulations to award degrees without marks and/or without external examiners
  3. including 'Where it is identified that External Examiners resign from post as part of their taking strike action they will not be reappointed.'

UCU believes Dundee is breaking the Scottish Government's Fair Work Agenda and acting illegally in compiling a blacklist of trade unionists. 

UCU and HE officers resolve to liaise with UCU Scotland to:

  1. call on the Scottish Government to immediately enforce its Fair Work Agenda with respect to requiring Dundee University to withdraw its punitive deductions and end its blacklisting of external examiners
  2. publicly 'name and shame' the institution. 


HE9  Lobby research councils on reasons for taking industrial action - University of Glasgow

HESC notes:

  1. research council money is being spent and project deadlines not met due to the necessary UCU industrial action. The impact of this is often invisible to universities as it does not affect teaching but has significant impact on collaborating institutes and industry UK-, Europe- and world-wide
  2. going on strike primarily affects a researcher's ability to meet project deadlines and long-term ability to obtain future funding to sustain their work and employment
  3. UKRI is a large research funding body close to government with a budget of £8bn per annum.

HESC believes to lobby UKRI and other research councils on the work being lost due to Universities failure to support their Academic and research staff through fair working conditions.

HESC calls to:

  1. determine the primary funders of university research
  2. lobby UKRI and other significant research funders over universities failure to support their staff through fair pay, pensions and working conditions.


HE10  HEC and negotiators consultation with members on disputes and offers - UCU Cymru (HE)

Conference notes that: 

  1. national UCU negotiators in the dispute with UCEA have rejected recent pay offers without consulting members on these offers
  2. without this the membership may lose a sense of control of the dispute which will be damaging to support further industrial action.

Conference resolves that: 

  1. the HEC meaningfully consults with members before rejecting any substantively new offers on any of the five areas of industrial dispute: pay, conditions, equality, casualisation, pensions
  2. the offer in each areas is clearly distinguished in the consultation
  3. on pay, membership should be consulted on the current pay offer, and every offer above this that averages an increase of 2% (across the sector) on the previous offer
  4. the HEC imminently clarifies and publicises the minimum thresholds that need to be met by UCEA and UUK to satisfy UCU demands in each of the five areas of the dispute.


HE11  UCU HE members to decide future HE strike action - University of Bristol

HESC notes:

  1. UCU's HEC 'has the power to authorise or endorse sanctions including industrial action' as regards our current HE disputes.

HESC believes:

  1. before HEC takes any decision regarding industrial action, it must consult with all HE members in branches with a mandate for strike action by e-consultation
  2. such a HE members' consultation would better inform HEC members, ensuring that UCU takes the most representative decision
  3. such a HE members' consultation is more inclusive than branch delegates meetings.

HESC resolves:

  1. before any decision on the timing or duration of strikes, HEC must consult with all members in HE branches with a mandate for strike action in an e-consultation
  2. any e-consultation must ask whether the member is willing to take further action, and what strike action, its timing, duration and nature, the member wishes to take.


HE12  Strike committees - Higher education committee

HESC notes:

  1. the establishment of strike committees by many UCU branches to build action in the #ucuRUSING campaign
  2. the call by NEU GS Kevin Courtney for the establishment of strike committees to support the unions latest action.

HESC believes:

  1. that strike committees can play an important role in widening participation of members in strike action/ASOS.

HESC resolves:

  1. to encourage all HE branches to establish strike committees while in dispute
  2. to establish a UK wide committee in all national HE disputes to increase members involvement and participation in building disputes and shaping their direction.


HE13  Maximising participation - UCU Scotland executive committee

Conference believes:

  1. maximising participation and democracy within the UCU is vital to ensuring UCU is a member-led union
  2. UCU Scotland has encouraged this with regular branch delegates meetings on specific issues over and above its regular voting delegate based Scottish Executive meetings.    

Conference resolves to explore ways in which Branch Delegate Meetings prior to HECs can inform HEC deliberations.


HE14  For democratic control over disputes - University of Manchester

HESC notes:

  1. that both the move to negotiation through ACAS and the 'pause' in strike action were imposed with no prior consultation of members or HEC
  2. official UCU social media platforms have been used to advance certain positions on future strategy and argue with individual members.

HESC further notes:

  1. democratic control over disputes empowers members and builds union density through the solidarity engendered by collective decision making
  2. members learning that they have been stood down via social media is disempowering and demoralising
  3. official union channels debating strategy on social media makes the union appear weak.

HESC resolves to: 

  1. affirm the sovereignty of members and our democratic processes
  2. commit to ongoing democratisation of the union, empowering members and creating proper processes for democratic decision-making during dispute
  3. remind employers that they are negotiating with a collective, not individuals, and they must wait for our democratic processes to make decisions on disputes.



HE15  USS - Higher education committee

HE sector conference notes the report and approves the recommendations of the SWG contained in UCUBANHE83 (SWG HESC2023).


HE16  USS motion on conditional indexation - University of Sheffield

Conference notes:

  1. HESC September 2021 passed a motion to initiate the exploration of the feasibility and promise of conditional indexation (CI) for the USS pension scheme
  2. recent exploratory work by USS for the JNC of UUK and UCU negotiators indicates the possibility of significant accrual improvement
  3. CI offers potential increased pensions and greater sustainability of contribution levels.

Conference believes that:

  1. seeking accrual above 1/75th for affordable member contributions is in the interests of all USS members
  2. conditional indexation has the possibility to strengthen the status of USS as an open, collective, mutual, multi-employer scheme with an ability to invest for the long term in a larger percentage of growth-seeking assets.

Conference therefore encourages UCU JNC negotiators' engagement in preparations toward more detailed analysis and consultation in the medium-term on models of CI, with no pre-condition of ultimate acceptance.


HE17  USS divestment - University of East Anglia

Conference notes:

  1. that the portfolio of public and private investments by the pension fund USS continues to invest its members' contributions in climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies and biodiversity-wrecking utility companies
  2. that by allowing USS investments in known polluters to go unchecked, we are contributing to climate breakdown.

Conference believes:

  1. in the Paris Agreement and the moral obligation of the higher education sector to contribute to climate justice.

Conference resolves:

  1. to call on USS to immediately cease investments in fossil fuel companies
  2. to demand in its negotiations with USS that a transparent and accountable body with UCU representation is formed to monitor and guide future investments so that they are invested into companies with sustainable and renewable resources and practices
  3. to issue a public statement in support of actions, campaigns, and protests that call for no new licensing for UK oil and gas.


HE18  Support USS Legal Action - Lancaster University

Conference notes that:

  1. the legal case against USS has a date set for the Court of Appeal hearing from 13th June
  2. the USS legal fund has raised £170,000, but still needs to raise the remaining £180,000 for the hearing
  3. there is wide support among UCU members for the USS legal action.

Conference believes that the decision by UCU national officers and the GS not to implement the HESC 2022 motion L5 is:

  1. in breach of UCU's rules
  2. risks a complaint to the certification officer under section 108A sub-section 2(d) of TULRCA act 1992.

Conference instructs the UCU national officers and the GS to:

  1. immediately enact the lawful decision to implement the HESC and NEC 2022 motions on support for USS legal action
  2. allocate the necessary funds for the USS legal action
  3. publicise UCU's support for USS legal action among its membership.


Motion HE18: As previously reported to branches, the UK officers have decided unanimously, following legal advice, that it is not possible to proceed with support for the case referred to in motion HE18 below, a decision endorsed by a majority of the union's trustees. The motion poses too great a financial risk to the union. In light of the previous similar motion passed by HESC, CBC decided that this motion should be placed into the agenda, however, as also noted by CBC, if passed, motion HE18 will not be implemented.

HE19  Long reballot over summer, industrial action at start of term - University College London

HESC resolves to ballot members for industrial action in a long ballot commencing as soon as possible and ending in September 2023 over the outstanding USS and JNCHES disputes, in order to be able to take strike action from the start of the autumn term. 


To be taken in open session

TPS (Teachers' Pension Scheme)

HE20  Defence of the post-92 contract - no to fragmentation of post-92 work force - University of Westminster

Conference notes:

  1. the post-92 contract stipulates explicit maxima for teaching week and year; a 35 -days leave; 5+ weeks research and scholarly activity
  2. the commitment of post-92 institutions to TPS
  3. that Staffordshire and Falmouth are using a subsidiary company to employ new staff, thus circumventing commitment to TPS and fragmenting the workforce.

Conference agrees that:

  1. defence of the Post-92 contract is of national importance
  2. post-92 disputes are of national importance.

Conference resolves to:

  1. implement motion HE14 (2022) and convene a national meeting of post-92 branches to discuss developments affecting the contract and commitment to TPS
  2. inform in writing, and via the UCU website, all post-92 members about the contract on the maximum working week and year, and the right to a minimum 5 weeks self-directed research/scholarly activity
  3. offer national support to any post-92 UCU branch facing a pensions, redundancies or conditions attack.



HE21  Conditions of casualised research staff - Newcastle University

This branch notes:

  1. nationally, 66% of research staff are fixed-term (HESA 2020/21). The use of fixed term contracts in research can mean that staff face insecurity and exploitation, which in turn can cause stress and anxiety beyond the workplace
  2. as part of the Four Fights, the casualisation that research staff face is of key importance in our dispute with the employer
  3. as it does not serve its members best interests, UCU is not a signatory of the current Research Concordat.

This branch proposes:

  1. that HEC establish a task and finish group to explore the issues faced by casualised research staff
  2. that this task and finish group aim to develop a concordat that serves to improve security and working conditions of casualised research staff.


HE22  Reinforcing organising for improved research staff conditions - Open University

Conference notes:

  1. the policies adopted and guidance produced in support of sustainable research careers
  2. that UCU has had little success in bringing employers to move research staff onto secure contracts, with the numbers on fixed-term contracts remaining relatively static
  3. that moves by some employers to move staff from FTC to open ended contracts with an identified 'at risk' date does not necessarily improve security of employment
  4. staff require paid time to adapt careers to changing conditions, such as the climate and ecological emergency
  5. we need new ways to pressure employers to meaningly engage, nationally and locally, on this issue.

Conference resolves to:

  1. assess support for research staff at each institution, with a view to ranking employers on levels of support
  2. identify and share examples of better practice
  3. update current materials on supporting research staff and develop a research staff manifesto that we can use as a campaigning and negotiating tool.


HE23  PGRs as staff campaign - Higher education committee

HE Sector conference notes the report on the PGRs as Staff Campaign and approves the report's recommendations as set out in UCU2085.


HE24  Composite: the future of PGRs as Staff and organising in HE - Higher education committee, University of Warwick

Conference recognises the progress made to date by the PGRs as Staff campaign, including:

  1. organising PGR members
  2. engaging effectively with UKRI
  3. supporting PGRs to win a 13% increase in UKRI stipends
  4. linking campaigning, bargaining and organising, providing a model for other pieces of work.

Conference notes that: 

  1. PGR members have secured significant wins at local and national levels
  2. some of this PGR activity has occurred outside of formal branch structures
  3. some branch committees don't have dedicated PGR or GTA positions or these positions are vacant
  4. some branches don't have an agreement with their employer to provide PGRs and hourly-paid workers with 'paid time on' facility time.

Conference reaffirms i) the principle that original postgraduate research should be acknowledged as labour and ii) the campaign for PGRs to be recognised as members of staff with full employee rights.

Conference believes that:

  1. PGR member campaigning should be supported
  2. PGR members and issues should be integrated within branch committees
  3. PGR members should be equally entitled to receive facility time.

Conference resolves to:

  1. continue the campaign on the basis of HESC 2020 motion 11 and the PGR manifesto
  2. adapt the organising techniques developed by the PGR campaign to other casualised groups in HE, such as fixed-term research and teaching staff, updating and augmenting existing guidance for branches
  3. identify further opportunities to integrate organising with campaigning, lobbying, bargaining and negotiating involving funding bodies and/or multiple employers.

Further, conference resolves that branches should be supported in:

  1. establishing PGR and GTA committee positions and actively recruiting to fill these positions
  2. training and mentoring PGR committee members to effectively campaign on matters relating to casual employment and postgraduate research
  3. negotiating with their employer on the provision of 'paid time on' facility time, where no such mechanism already exists.


HE24A.1  Black members standing committee

Add after 'notes' point 4:

  1. PGRs work in precarious conditions, change membership status frequently thus often lose access to UCU's benefits.

Add after 'resolves to' point a. (renumber accordingly):

  1. adopt the principle that student members should not lack access to UCU's structures on the basis of precarious employment status.


HE25  Defend the rights of outsourced PGRs - University of Surrey

Conference notes that:

  1. five motions opposing the practice of outsourcing have been passed at congress and both sector specific conferences since 2009
  2. despite important wins, further and higher education employers, including the University of Surrey, continue to outsource staff and services via third-party agencies (e.g. Unitemps) or subsidiary businesses.

Believes that:

  1. outsourcing in this way excludes PGRs from many employment rights and entitlements, including their ability to engage in industrial action or join national disputes
  2. members require coordinated support to campaign for the eradication of outsourcing in further and higher education.

Resolves to:

Support local efforts to end outsourcing through:

  1. use of national press and social media campaigning
  2. providing organising support to all branches wishing to submit relevant local claims
  3. collecting data over a six-month period from outsourced PGRs on pay rates, workload, training opportunities, welfare and recognition to support local bargaining.


HE26  Research funder - University of Glasgow

HESC notes:

  1. job insecurity and a hyper-competitive research culture negatively impact on research integrity and wellbeing
  2. 68% of research only staff are on fixed-term contracts
  3. universities try to justify use of insecure contracts based on insecure funding
  4. funders and Universities vary in the degree to which they support researchers job security
  5. UCU members sit on funding review panels and review grants.

HESC resolves to: 

  1. build a consensus through methods such as a researcher working group and surveys on a set of criteria which would improve job security for researchers and to which research funders and employers should adhere to
  2. explore ways in which we can put pressure on the funders (UKRI and others) and employers to adhere to these core criteria. This should include a consideration of asking members to withdraw from participating in reviewing grants with funders that are unwilling to adhere to these criteria.


Academic related, professional services staff (ARPS)

HE27  Campaigning on academic and academic-related professional staff - Bournemouth University

Conference notes:

  1. the longstanding commitment of ARPS members to UCU campaigning and industrial action
  2. year-on-year grade drift for ARPS members
  3. grade suppression
  4. in many institutions, the lack of a framework for career progression and promotion.

Conference calls on UCU to:

  1. survey ARPS members to better understand their needs as members
  2. provide the ARPS standing committee with any and all resources needed to undertake work streams on behalf of ARPS members.


HE27A.1 Academic related, professional services staff committee

Insert the word 'Services' in the title.

Insert the following after point 4 of Conference notes:

'Conference further notes:

The ongoing work of the ARPS committee to address these issues including the ARPS Model Claim template and Job evaluation training.'

Insert at the beginning of point a of 'Conference calls on UCU to:' 'Analyse previous feedback and surveys and further'.


HE28  Relationships with other unions - Academic related, professional services staff committee

Conference notes:

UCU ARPS members often work closely with members of other unions, e.g. Unison, and face many shared issues including:

  1. increasing, unsafe workloads
  2. casualisation
  3. pay inequality
  4. unequal opportunities for advancement
  5. workplace bullying
  6. pay deterioration
  7. downgrading of roles.

We are in the same fight for decency in our workplaces, but there are few formal structures beyond Joint Negotiating Committees, and varying degrees of communication, co-operation and co-ordination between unions. These risk contributing to division, where unity is needed.

Conference instructs HEC to:

  1. contact Unison, Unite and GMB to propose the establishment of a non-academic, professional and support staff-led Working Group to look at how co-operation could happen
  2. produce guidelines for branches wishing to collaborate more closely with unions in their own branch.


New heading: Student distribution and HE funding

HE29 Composite: To campaign for a student distribution system in HE - Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Edinburgh, Bangor University, University of Kent, University of East Anglia, Southern regional committee

Conference notes that student recruitment patterns:

  1. mean some universities hoard undergraduate students, while others struggle to recruit
  2. have led to greater uncertainty and instability in the sector which has been used to systematically undermine pay and conditions
  3. have been used by management as a pretext to cut staff costs, including department closures and redundancies
  4. translate to poor learning conditions for students, unsustainable workloads for staff at universities that over-recruit and increased casualisation across the sector.

The current system is designed to bankrupt small HEIs.

Conference believes:

  1. the removal of university caps on student numbers by the Tories in 2014 in their pursuit of marketising the sector has been detrimental to higher education and had a negative impact on university staff and students
  2. the UK and devolved governments must reintroduce a managed system of student distribution across the sector based on fairness and equality.

Conference resolves to:

  1. commission research on models of student distribution which can create recruitment balance in HE
  2. begin a high-profile campaign for the better management and distribution of students numbers across all HEIs to protect jobs via the reintroduction of student distribution this coming year, including branch resources, intense lobbying efforts, and media
  3. instruct HEC to lobby government and opposition parties to adopt such measures.


HE30  Composite: defend soft sciences, humanities and arts-based courses - Royal College of Art, University of Westminster

Conference notes:

  1. two years after the DoE decision to cut 50% of OfS funding to higher education arts subjects in England, HE has faced waves of course closures and redundancies in soft sciences, arts and humanities departments, including at the universities of Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, Hertfordshire, Huddersfield, Roehampton, UEA, Wolverhampton, De Montfort, and Dundee
  2. conference agrees that provision of soft sciences, humanities, and arts-based courses in HE including in post-92 institutions is of national importance for UCU. These closures predominantly affect students from marginalised and wider participation backgrounds, removing the opportunity to develop the understanding and skills to engage with societal and political change critically
  3. three motions were passed to fight these cuts in 2021 (2 at UCU Congress, 1 at HEC) but resolutions have yet to be actioned
  4. the oversubscribed Protect the Arts and Humanities session due to take place at the cancelled Cradle to Grave conference September 2022 has not been rescheduled for another occasion.

Conference believes:

  1. attacks on the arts and humanities directly impact jobs of UCU HE members and are part of the government's broader defunding and politicised attacks on the arts and humanities.

Conference resolves to

  1. defend the provision of soft sciences, humanities, and arts-based courses in all institutions, including post-92 institutions
  2. urgently set up an Arts and Culture Campaign Group, including representatives of HE institutions affected and threatened by the cuts, to launch and coordinate a campaign to defend the arts and courses that ensure marginalised citizens have the skills and knowledge to critically engage with social and political change that adversely and disproportionately impacts them.


HE30A.1 LGBT+ members standing committee

In the title and wherever it appears in the motion delete the word 'soft' and replace with the word 'social'.

After 'humanities' in resolves i delete the word 'and'.

After 'arts based' in resolves i add the words:

and LGBT+ studies

After courses in resolves ii add:

including LGBT+ studies

In Conference resolves add new point:

  1. support the continued organising of UCU equality and LGBT+ research conferences with the aim of promoting such studies and enabling those researching in these areas to share and promote their work.


HE30A.2 Southern regional HE sector committee

Insert after conference resolves ii., ending in 'adversely and disproportionately impacts them.' the following text:

  1. instruct HEC to lobby government and opposition parties to adopt such measures.


HE31  Supporting students to demand fee reimbursement around industrial action - Cardiff University

Conference notes:

  1. many students and students unions are lobbying their universities for fee reimbursements for lost contact hours owing to industrial action
  2. NUS supports our industrial action as do many local students unions
  3. the chief executive of the Office for Students recently backed students' demands for refunds.

Conference believes:

  1. we oppose tuition fees and the marketisation of HE
  2. having been forced to pay tuition fees, students should not bear the further cost of our employer's unwillingness to provide reasonable pay and working conditions. Students are within their rights to complain about missed teaching.

Conference resolves:

  1. to offer support and practical assistance to NUS and local students unions to demand fee refunds for teaching and wider services lost due to industrial action. This includes e.g. public statements of support.


HE32  Kick Capitalism Out Of HE! - University of Sheffield

Conference notes:

  1. the increasing role of privatisation, profit and the market in higher education (HE)
  2. alongside this, we have seen increasing attacks on pay and pensions, rampant casualisation, outsourcing, course closures, redundancies, and systemic pay inequality.

Conference believes:

  1. this marketisation of HE and, ultimately, capitalism itself are the driving forces behind these issues that are proliferating throughout our sector
  2. the only way to achieve lasting change is to tackle the root causes of issues plaguing our sector and fight for free, fully-funded HE

Conference resolves:

  1. to launch a sector-wide campaign to 'Kick Capitalism Out Of HE', calling for sister unions and students to join this
  2. this campaign should have the explicit goal to reverse all funding cuts; abolish tuition fees; kick out private companies and interests; and replace university bureaucracies with democratic bodies made up of HE staff and students to run universities for social good, not profit.


HE33  Subsidiarisation of staff at Coventry University - Coventry University 

Conference notes that: 

  1. since 2015, Coventry University staff have systematically been moved from core functions to subsidiaries
  2. new and promoted staff are being recruited into subsidiaries
  3. employment in subsidiaries is on worse terms and conditions with limited career progression
  4. there is a consequential loss of professional role, academic freedom, research opportunities & trade union recognition 
  5. profits are gift-aided back to the university. 

Conference believes that: 

  1. academic roles are being systematically privatised for profit
  2. students should be taught by academic subject specialists employed directly by the university
  3. subsidiarisation impacts academic freedom, terms and conditions of employment and job security. This 'business' model is a serious threat to the wider HE sector. 

Conference resolves to: 

  1. condemn the model of subsidiarisation especially at Coventry University
  2. call on UCU to mount a national campaign to fight against the subsidiarisation of higher education of the form instigated by Coventry University. 


HE34  Building a national campaign for recognition in Study Group - University of Sheffield International College

Conference notes:

  1. the proliferation of outsourced private education providers in UK HE represents a clear threat to terms and conditions
  2. UCU has taken big steps forward in one provider (Study Group) with the successful recognition campaign at Sussex International College and the first ever strike in an outsourced higher education provider in the UK at the University of Sheffield International College, which secured a pay award of 10% for staff and 8% for managerial staff over two years
  3. ongoing grassroots efforts to win recognition in further Study Group institutions.

Conference resolves:

  1. to begin a campaign for national recognition in Study Group
  2. to remind branches in institutions which Study Group has agreements with that it is UCU policy to support staff in private providers to unionise
  3. to instruct HE officers to attempt to initiate discussions with Study Group on a national recognition agreement.


New heading: Equality

HE35  Equalities data - Disabled members standing committee

Conference notes:

  1. equalities reps face barriers to accessing equalities data about staff in UK Higher Education institutions
  2. equalities reps are having to resort to Freedom of Information requests to obtain equalities data as HEIs are not routinely collating or making such data accessible.

Conference believes:

  1. lack of agreed standards for equalities data about staff obscures the extent and impact of gender, disability and ethnicity inequalities in HEIs
  2. data about inequalities in pay, progression and retention are crucial to collective bargaining and fighting inequality within higher education.

Conference calls on:

  1. UCU to develop a standardised data request for HEIs to collate and make equalities data about staff pay, progression and retention available to trade unions
  2. UCU to work with UCEA and HEIs to ensure that HEIs collate and provide equalities data, as part of their responsibility to disclose information to trade unions for collective bargaining.


HE35A.1  LGBT+ members standing committee

Believes a. - add after gender: LGBT+ identities,

Change 'equalities' to 'equality' throughout.


HE36  Navigating bureaucratic processes in HE - Disabled members standing committee

Conference notes that many common university workplace processes (e.g. promotion and probation, procedures surrounding fixed-term contracts) can be complex and hard to navigate, especially for disabled and neurodivergent members (further disadvantaging them).

Conference resolves to develop process-specific, fully accessible resources that include: 

  1. a brief overview of any relevant legislation, negotiated agreements and sector norms that underlie any individual institution's policies
  2. a checklist of questions to ask and issues to look out for in your own employer's policies and procedures
  3. case studies and/or practical hints and tips from other members who have been through similar processes
  4. a dedicated document and/or webpage on navigating university bureaucracy, which will also link to any similar information that has already been produced
  5. guidance for branches on developing similar resources on employer-specific policies.


HE37  Supporting parents and challenging inequality in HE - Women members standing committee

HESC notes:

  1. existing UCU policy and extensive research highlighting persistent discrimination and gendered disparities in pay, conditions, and career development
  2. high casualisation, real terms pay cuts in HE, and shortcomings in workplace health and safety disproportionately affect all who wish to plan and care for a family
  3. these issues underpin sizeable gender pay and other inequality driven pay gaps, compounded by employers' failure to properly support workers through pregnancy, reproductive health concerns, parenthood, and caregiving.

HESC calls on HEC and EQC to coordinate a campaign with equality/employment advisory committees, and allied organisations to:

  1. publicly report unequal provision of parental leave across HEIs
  2. Investigate unsafe heavy workloads after birth
  3. publish guidance and run bargaining and negotiation workshops for branches on securing additional maternity pay and other parental leave policies
  4. demand equal access to fully paid parental leave paid for all HE workers and PGRs.


HE38  Equalities, the cost of living, and HE industrial work - Women members standing committee

Conference notes:

  1. the cost of living crisis as an added threat to our incomes which are already reduced by years of real value pay cuts
  2. that vulnerable groups like women take on roles as the 'shock absorbers' of this crisis and of 13 years of austerity on their households and families
  3. that low pay and insecure employment are worsened by the intersectional impacts of gender, race, sexuality, disability and migrant status
  4. that equality issues are central to industrial campaigns on HE pay and pensions.

Conference expects HEC, HE negotiators, and HE branches to ensure that

  1. equality issues are at the forefront of all HE industrial work
  2. our campaigning, bargaining, and publicity material highlights the issues noted above and is directed at all membership groups facing equality injustices
  3. the views and interests of our equality groups are sought when planning HE campaigns and other industrial work.


HE38A.1 London regional HE sector committee

Add to the end of the motion:

Members of equality strands and part-time students/staff are likely to be disproportionately impacted when strike days are not evenly spread. Conference resolves

  1. future strike days should be evenly spread across weekdays within any term/semester
  2. where strike days within a term/semester are not divisible by five, some weekdays can be scheduled for a maximum of ONE additional strike day
  3. any other exception must be approved by HEC, and a rationale for disproportionality provided.


HE39  LGBT+ in HE - LGBT+ members standing committee

Conference notes with concern that:

  1. numerous HEIs have withdrawn from Stonewall following pressure, including from media
  2. UK slipped down the ILGA Europe Rainbow Europe chart
  3. there is limited research on the experiences of LGBT+ members in HEIs.

Conference believes that:

  1. stonewall has taken a strong trans and non-binary inclusion stance. This has been reflected in some progressive measures in HEIs
  2. nobody should be subject to anti-LGBT+ discrimination at work
  3. HEIs should be doing everything to create and develop working environments everywhere that support and defend all LGBT+ people.

Conference calls for UCU to:

  1. send a message of support and promote Stonewall's work
  2. survey HE members on topics including trans and non-binary inclusion, international work, and experiences of LGBT+ discrimination in HEIs
  3. work with other education unions to advocate for LGBT+ protections across Europe and beyond
  4. collate information about international LGBT+ rights and illustrate with experiences of LGBT+ members in HEIs.


HE40  UCURising, Four Fights and LGBT+ pay gaps - LGBT+ members standing committee

HESC notes the:

  1. success of Four Fights and UCU Rising disputes in raising the profile of gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps in HEIs
  2. lack of data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity by HESA and varied data available around LGBT+ staff at HEIs
  3. historic and contemporary reasons why LGBT+ staff may not feel confident that it would be safe to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace
  4. linkedIn commissioned poll showing a UK-wide LGBT+ pay gap of 16%.

HESC resolves for:

  1. UCU to lobby HESA for better data collection on LGBT+ identities
  2. UCU to lobby OfS and UCEA on improving safety and confidence to support data collection
  3. UCU to add LGBT+ pay gap to HE industrial campaigning
  4. UCU to conduct research to better understand LGBT+ pay gaps in HE.


Other matters

HE41  University democratisation online poll of all UCU university members - Cardiff University

UCU HE sector conference notes that the worsening de-democratisation of UK universities underlies and exacerbates many of the problems of our sector.

Conference resolves to mandate HEC to conduct an anonymised online poll of all HE members working in UK Universities, as soon as is practical, running for one month, ideally during term time, asking the following questions:

1A. Are you in favour of democratisation* of your university? (Yes/No/Abstain)

1B. Should this be an industrial action demand? (Y/N/A)

2A. Should staff elect at least half your university's governing body**? (Y/N/A)

2B. Should this be an industrial action demand? (Y/N/A)


 * 'Democratisation' taken to mean 'making more democratic'.

** This is a practical 'minimum baseline democracy' and could further democratise itself


HE42  Demilitarise and democratise USS and HE sector - King's College London

HEC notes that:

  1. USS and HE institutions have investments in companies profiting from imperialist wars, occupation, borders and environmental destruction
  2. USS reform enhanced pensions' dependence on profitable investment
  3. following Russia's imperialist invasion of Ukraine, USS has written off £450 million of its equity investments in Russia
  4. some universities suspended relationships with Russian universities.

HEC believes that:

  1. the lack of a coherent divestment policy contributes to escalating the conflict in, and beyond, Ukraine
  2. targeting Russian universities fails to support anti-war efforts within and beyond Russia.

HEC resolves:

  1. to campaign for democratizing USS and HE institutions;
  2. to push USS and HE institutions immediately to divest from arms companies and companies profiting from imperialist wars, occupation, borders and environmental destruction
  3. to demand a coherent ethical investment and voting framework for USS and the HE sector.


Last updated: 1 November 2023