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Dr Donna Brown (Royal Holloway, University of London)

25 January 2024

Election address

My history 

I'm a senior lecturer, in Managerial Economics, at Royal Holloway University of London. A Branch Secretary in AUT, in UCU I've been H&S officer, pensions rep and various other roles. 

Currently I'm Branch Chair, alongside sitting on my Academic Board (Senate) and governing body. These roles afford different opportunities to challenge the managerialism damaging HE. 

In 2023 I was delighted to join the Superannuation Working Group on USS, as an alternate UCU negotiator. Building on the huge contributions of previous SWG members and members who took action for decent retirement incomes, the recent settlement shows what UCU can achieve. This success must be replicated for members across post-16 education. In my view that will require UCU to act with strategic coherence. 

A union based on organising 

My strength in organising was honed as a postal worker rep for UCW (now CWU). My first negotiation was delivering a smoke-free rest area - which took some doing 30 years ago. At RHUL I've led efforts to develop a sustainable branch committee; recruiting more reps and developing teams for each local issue. I designed stress surveys for all workers during the height of Covid and later to underpin negotiations, resulting in a local workload negotiating group.

I bring an outward focus to our branch, having attended Congress, Sector Conferences and BDMs. This allowed our branch to learn from others, a process accelerated by our engagement with the Solidarity Movement and by my joining UCU Left. Adapting GTVO and Twin to Win models has strengthened our branch. Through this exchange, I realised our Branch could repay this by sharing our ideas and tactics.  


Marketization in HE damages the education we offer, our research, and limits institutional contributions to local communities. Employers bemoan the impact of frozen fees and limits on overseas students to financial sustainability. But, it is unsustainable to make workers ill with overwork or drive them from the sector. As we decolonise our work, we must not embed extraction in global partnerships.  

My priorities? 

UCU is not just a university lecturers' union and we must fight that perception. I would press for greater involvement of Professional Service (ARPS) members and greater recognition of FE, adult and prison education in UCU's work. 

UCU needs a credible strategic approach, coherent campaigns and earlier member engagement to build members' confidence to take action again. We hear some claims that employers cannot afford pay rises but national bargaining must be protected. If not, we abandon branch reps to fighting against downward spirals. UCU must offer greater support for less experienced or resourced branches, to develop successful local solutions on issues such as workload.  

Please consider using your votes for UCU Left candidates. 

Last updated: 25 January 2024