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The Friday email: 2 February 2024

2 February 2024

New research staff and casualisation report

This week UCU has released a new report that exposes the lack of security of employment for research staff. Click here to download the full report, which is based on freedom of information (FOI) requests. Around two-thirds (66%) of research staff are employed on fixed-term contracts, some less than a year in length.

We have produced an accompanying branch guidance which highlights how you can use the report to seek improvement to security of employment for research staff locally.

UCU elections 2024

Elections for key positions within UCU--general secretary, vice-president, national executive committee (NEC) and trustee--opened on Thursday 25 January. Most members will have now received their ballot materials in the post. If you have not, from Monday 5 February you can request a replacement ballot pack using an online form here. See why the NEC elections are so important in our short video.

Centrally organised online hustings will be held for the vice-president candidates and you can sign up using the links below:

UCU to give oral evidence at Education Select Committee

On Tuesday 6 February, general secretary Jo Grady will give oral evidence to the Education Select Committee over the impact of higher education industrial action upon students, with employer body Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and the Office for Students (OfS) also in attendance. This presents an opportunity to set out the reason for the pay and working conditions dispute, as well as our repeated attempts to avoid action and reach a fair deal to help struggling education staff across the country. UCU members need no reminding that all these efforts were ignored by employers, leading to disruption on campuses across the UK.

Thanks to all members who have already shared their thoughts, concerns, and views regarding what should be raised during the evidence session. For any members who would still like to do so, you can share your suggestions here up until Monday 5 February 10:00.

You can watch the Education Select Committee live on Tuesday 6 February from 10:00 here.

Ravensbourne University London: union recognition now!

UCU members at Ravensbourne University London are campaigning for trade union recognition following management proposals to establish an alternative 'representative staff forum'. Staff are to be balloted on the two options by the university with provisional ballot dates of 4-17 March. UCU is arguing for formal recognition which would provide an agreed negotiating framework and give staff a voice to influence key decisions at Ravensbourne whereas the proposed management-controlled forum does not come with the same rights and obligations.

Find out more about this important campaign by clicking here and support our demand for a seat at the decision-making table by following the branch on Instagram here.

Strike ballot at University of Aberdeen over job cuts

A ballot for strike action opened at University of Aberdeen in a dispute over job cuts in the  modern languages department. The postal ballot will run until Wednesday 7 February 2024 and could pave the way for strike action at the university.

There has been widespread support for retaining modern languages, with the University of Aberdeen receiving letters from the consulates of the French, German, Spanish and Italian governments. Click here to sign the petition which has already received over 16,000 signatures, and click here for more information from Aberdeen UCU branch.

Oxford Brookes University: defend jobs and education

Oxford Brookes University has announced plans to reduce academic staff numbers in arts, humanities, social sciences and maths, leaving 48 jobs at risk of compulsory redundancy. Please read and share UCU's open letter here and sign our petition to save jobs at Oxford Brookes University.

Future of work in post-16 education working group

The Future of work in post-16 education working group will consider the threats and opportunities of technology being used in the sector now and in the future, and how UCU should support members and branches to respond.

We need members to step forward to be on the working group. We are looking for people from all sectors of the union and with all levels of knowledge on technology-those who are worried about technology through to experts and everyone in between. The deadline for expressions of interest in the group is Thursday 15 February (09:00).

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD): what's at stake?

Register for this webinar on Thursday 8 February (18:00-19:00) to hear more about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and the role it can play in promoting the rights of workers with disabilities.

Ceasefire NOW!

UCU joins with many others in Palestine, the UK, and beyond to reiterate the demands for an immediate ceasefire, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, and the lifting of the siege of Gaza. You can read the union's latest statement on education in Gaza here.

We have launched a new page on our website to collate in one place all of our information, resources and events for UCU members and branches to continue to campaign locally around these issues.

Peer reviewers for equality research conference

In preparation for our biennial equality research conference which will next take place in May 2024, UCU is establishing a peer review team for papers. If you are interested in participating as a peer reviewer, please complete the form here by 15 February 2024.

Journal of Further and Higher Education editor-in-chief vacancy

The Journal of Further and Higher Education, which is published by Taylor and Francis for UCU, is currently recruiting for a new editor-in-chief. Anyone interested in being considered for the role can find more information here; applications are invited by 1 March 2024. If you would like an informal discussion about the role please contact Jenny Sherrard.

Additional employments: check your details on MyUCU

Where UCU members have multiple employers, they should register those under 'additional employments' through MyUCU. This includes members with part-time work at different further education or higher education employers, at subsidiaries (such as university-owned companies), or the independent colleges of collegiate universities. Doing this will ensure that you have full protection at all your workplaces.

Last updated: 2 February 2024