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The Friday email: 23 February 2024

23 February 2024

England further education pay campaign 2024/25

Briefings are taking place for UCU college reps (England only) to discuss the new strategy proposed by the union's further education committee (FEC) of 'Levelling up the sector'. The briefings will allow branches to come together and discuss the strategy, the issues that are important to members and ask questions. Members of FEC will be at the briefings. Feedback from both briefings will be reported into the FEC, which next meets on Friday 8 March. You should contact your branch committee to find out who is representing your branch and suggest questions your reps should ask at the briefings.

This year we will be asking members to:

  • build the strength of the union: through asking your colleagues to join the union and getting involved in your branch 
  • campaign and get the vote out during a national industrial action ballot to exert leverage to agree national bargaining with the employers.

Click here to read the full update from UCU general secretary Jo Grady.

Reclaim Higher Education

A thriving higher education sector is critical to our economy and society. In this general election year we have an opportunity to set out our vision for a fair funding model with an end to tuition fees, secure funding for all subjects and a fair distribution of students across the sector. It is time for the people who keep our sector going to reclaim it.

Our branches are doing brilliant work to pushback against attacks but now is the time for a UK-wide defence of the higher education sector. If we want to see change then we are going to have to fight to deliver it.

We will launch the Reclaim Higher Education campaign imminently. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have to rearrange the event due to take place on Wednesday 28 February; please look out for further updates.

University of Aberdeen: strike action over cuts to modern languages

UCU Scotland announced today that staff at University of Aberdeen will take six days of strike action over jobs cuts to modern languages and putting 30 staff at risk of redundancy. The dates are Tuesday 12 March, Thursday 21 March-Friday 22 March, Monday 25-Wednesday 27 March. Members will also begin action short of a strike (ASOS) including working to contract and not rescheduling classes cancelled as part of strike action.

On Monday 26 February (17:30) there will be a public rally at New King's Building to 'Save Modern Languages', organised by the University of Aberdeen UCU branch and Aberdeen University Students' Association.

University of Kent: job cuts

The University of Kent announced recently that there are likely to be up to 58 academic redundancies. This is on top of year on year cuts that have seen a dramatic decline in staffing. The current situation is entirely of the employer's own making: there is no reason, other than management failings, that Kent find themselves in this mess. UCU are determined to fight this academic vandalism and defend the university; show your support and sign this petition.

Oxford Brookes University: defend jobs and education

In November 2023 management at Oxford Brookes University declared 48 jobs 'at risk' with 20 needing to be cut. Our campaigning, negotiating and balloting have reduced the number of compulsory redundancies to two. UCU still intend to reduce that number to zero.

Please read and share UCU's open letter here and sign our petition to save jobs at Oxford Brookes University.

Northumbria University UCU dispute over compulsory redundancies

UCU members at Northumbria University announced on 15 February that they declared an industrial dispute. University senior management has indicated that they will push through huge reductions in spending on staff, and has failed to rule out compulsory redundancies, even while insisting that the institution's 'underlying financial position remains very strong'. You can read the full story here including a joint statement by UCU and UNISON.

Stop the cuts to Coventry Adult Education Service 

Coventry City Council is proposing drastic cuts to services which threaten our members' jobs in adult education as well as opportunities for the people of Coventry. Reductions to central government funding have left the council looking to make savings by proposing to scrap centre creches and cut back on key staff. Please send messages of support to our Coventry Adult and Community Education (ACE) branch who are calling on the council to reverse the proposals.

UCU continuing professional development programme

UCU has developed a continuing professional development (CPD) programme, which is free and open to all members. The latest CPD survey shows that nearly a quarter of members who joined CPD workshops went on to become active in their branch.

The rationale for the CPD programme is to bring members together around issues that directly or indirectly affect them, to engage in a collective approach and develop solidarity. We encourage members who are not directly affected by an issue to join workshops and use their influence to make fundamental changes in the workplace. An example of this is those who do not experience menopause attending the 'Menopause is a workplace issue' workshop or staff on permanent contracts joining the 'Challenging casual contracts' workshop.

Please look out for our regular Monday email to members with all the workshops running throughout the term. If you would like a workshop in your branch, please email the UCU learning and development co-ordinators. The full offer can be found in the CPD catalogue.

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; applications are invited by 1 March 2024. If you would like an informal discussion about the role please contact Jenny Sherrard.

Equality research conference

The second UCU equality research conference, entitled 'Nothing without us: pride, diversity, respect and liberation', will be a one-day hybrid conference for academics, researchers and activists conducting research on equality issues, lives and aspirations. It will take place on Friday 17 May (10:30-16:30) in person at the University of Manchester or online via Zoom.

The call for papers is now open with deadline Monday 4 March 2024. Proposals of no more than 500 words are now invited to be submitted online here.

UCU LGBT+ webinars

UCU LGBT+ has organised two webinars for the end of LGBT+ history month 2024. Firstly LGBT+ health on Thursday 29 February (16:00-17:30), and then on Friday 1 March a webinar on LGBT+ history. You can click here to register. At a later date these will be hosted online alongside other equality webinars.

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 a webpage that collates in one place all of our information, resources and events for UCU members and branches to continue to campaign locally around these issues.

Two-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine

On Saturday 24 February, the two-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine Solidarity Campaign (USC) is marching with Ukrainian community groups and UK trade unionists. Meet 13:30 at Marble Arch, march to rally in Trafalgar Square at 16:00 followed by a social from 17:30 at the Civil Service Club.

USC is also raising money for an appeal by the Free Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine. Please donate here and share widely. As part of this fund drive, USC is screening the film 20 Days of Mariupol at the Garden Cinema in London on Thursday 7 March. Tickets available here.

Best wishes

Ed Bailey
UCU deputy head of campaigns

Last updated: 9 April 2024