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The Friday email: 28 July 2023

28 July 2023

Respect FE: support our campaign, build for the ballot

Our Respect FE campaign is calling for a new settlement in further education (FE) to address pay erosion, unmanageable workloads and a broken model of negotiating with college employers. The additional funding for FE promised by the government is an opportunity for employers to work with us to make the changes the sector needs, but too often it is only when we organise action that they listen. We are balloting members in these FE England colleges from early September.

If you are at one of the colleges being balloted:

Supporters can help:

UCU Rising: holding the line

This week UCU members in higher education have held the line in the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) and built leverage for our negotiators who met with UCEA on Thursday. Our Twitterstorm on the eve of negotiations piled on the pressure even more, with our message reaching hundreds of thousands of accounts. 

This pressure led to our employers saying that they will reconsider their position and come back to us after the UCEA Board meet today. We will meet them early next week to negotiate further. 

We ask every member to stand united behind our negotiators ahead of next week's negotiations, so please continue to support the MAB and change your social media profile picture to tell employers that you are holding the line until they #SettleTheDispute.

Our dispute, demands, and the disgraceful deductions being taken from our members' salaries are receiving more and more coverage in the press. This week we have been covered by the BBC, ITV, Guardian, regional radio stations across the UK, and the Morning Star. University of Bristol UCU president Jamie Melrose will be on BBC Points West this evening at 6pm

Defend jobs: boycott the University of Brighton!

Staff at the University of Brighton held a rally this week against cruel redundancies being imposed by the institution's management. Twenty-three academic staff at University of Brighton were issued with compulsory redundancy notices earlier this week. This comes on top of eighty staff having reluctantly accepted voluntary redundancy rather than face being sacked. UCU members at Brighton are on indefinite strike, fighting to stop the cuts. UCU has also announced an academic boycott of the University of Brighton.

University of Chichester's axing of African history course

UCU has slammed the University of Chichester management's threat to axe its unique history of Africa and the African diaspora masters and sack Professor Hakim Adi, the UK's first African-British professor of history. The move is part of a wider review which has put four permanent staff under threat of redundancy. Professor Adi's course was created to train mature students of African and Caribbean heritage as historians; just 1% of UK professors are Black.

University of Huddersfield puts over 100 staff at risk of redundancy

University of Huddersfield management has put forward large-scale redundancy proposals that could see staff lose their jobs by the end of September. The university announced the cuts just before the summer leave period making meaningful consultation practically impossible. The 105 staff at risk of redundancy include 39 in the school of applied sciences, 15 in the school of arts and humanities and 43 across the Huddersfield business school and the school of education & professional development. UCU estimates that around 50 of the 105 staff at risk of redundancy could lose their jobs. Click here for the full story and UCU's response.

Online training for the workload campaign

Online training for workload reps continues over the summer. For more information on the workload campaign and the role of the workload rep please contact Alex Lancaster. To register on workload reps 1 or 2 training sessions please follow the links below:

New Researcher Task and Finish group

In accordance with UCU Congress 2023 motion HE21 we are setting up a Researcher Task and Finish group to look at the issues faced by casualised research staff. The group will help with a league table of employers that we are building based on recent freedom of information (FOI) requests, as well as contributing to a UCU researcher manifesto/concordat and highlighting any examples of good practice. You will need to be available up to the end of the year for occasional (online) meetings and to contribute to ongoing discussions. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Jane Thompson by Friday 4 August.

Survey on Ofsted and mock-Ofsted inspections

We have launched a survey to understand more about members' experiences of Ofsted and mock-Ofsted inspections in FE colleges. The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and your responses will inform our ongoing campaigns. The deadline for responses is Friday 8 September 2023. Click here to begin the survey.

Friday email will return

Please note this will be the last Friday email for a while; it will resume at the start of September. Rest assured that we will continue to send out important updates to members and branches.

Last updated: 28 July 2023