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Ann Gow (University of Glasgow)

25 January 2024

Election address

Like many of you my career began on precarious contracts, providing me with firsthand insight into the key challenges faced by UCU members in Higher Education. I am now a Professor in Information Studies at the University of Glasgow, but I have not forgotten the hard lessons I learnt during those crushingly difficult early years. Soon after joining the university, I became actively engaged in the UCU branch, assuming diverse roles such as Secretary (10 + years) and serving as Casualised Staff and Equality representative.

Currently, I hold the position of HE UK-elected member of NEC and serve as Chair of the Recruitment Organising and Campaigning Committee. I was UCU Scotland President from 2017 to 2019, accumulating 12 years as a UCUS officer. In this capacity, I visited numerous branches, continually inspired by the dedication and resilience of UCU members and activists. Actively participating in the Scottish Government Working group, Equally Safe in HE, I contributed to the group's efforts to raise awareness and reduce gender-based violence in colleges and universities.

At the University of Glasgow, I played a crucial role in collective campaigns and successfully led negotiations on various fronts, including a performance management scheme grievance and a dispute against job cuts, resulting in a commitment to no compulsory redundancies. I also led negotiations that led to the removal of zero hours contracts and the development of the Extended Workforce policy.

Listening to members teaches us so much; my experience as a caseworker revealed the detrimental impact of managerial approaches in Higher Education, such as a misguided focus on financial targets and performance management, leading to increased workloads, stress, and ill-health. I advocate for collective action, emphasizing the importance of addressing discrimination and unfair treatment, through unified efforts.

Recognising the lifeblood of UCU lies in the collective involvement of its members. I have consistently encouraged effective campaigning for the defence of members' interests during my terms on NEC. Moreover, I prioritize highlighting the positive role further and higher education should play in a progressive society, especially in the face of challenges to academic freedom.

Acknowledging the challenges members face in participating in union activity, I believe in maximizing participation by engaging and involving all members more fully. By doing so, UCU can make meaningful progress in addressing daily issues, including equality, job security, workload, pay, and pensions. I advocate for the effective and strategic use of industrial action in supporting disputes to achieve clear objectives.

I am supporting Jo Grady for re-election as General Secretary and David Hunter as UCU Vice-President. If elected, I will work with them for a stronger and more forward-looking union. To see who else is committed to this, visit

Last updated: 25 January 2024