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The Friday email: 8 March 2024

8 March 2024

International Women's Day, 8 March

Join UCU in celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) today. This year's campaign theme is Inspire Inclusion and we have new posters you can now download from our website.

UCU elections 2024

Results of the ballots to elect a trustee, general secretary, vice-president and national executive committee (NEC) members are set out in this circular.

Two new strike dates at North East college group in low pay dispute

Staff at five colleges in Cleveland, Redcar and Stockton-on-Tees in the Education Training Collective (ETC) will strike on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 March.

A new strike ballot also opened on Wednesday 6 March and will run until Monday 15 April so UCU members can continue to take industrial action if ETC refuses to settle the dispute.

England further education pay campaign 2024/25

Following the decisions of the further education committee (FEC) to call an aggregate ballot of all England FE branches starting this June, branches have been discussing what this means for them and how the FEC strategy will work in practice.

Over the past few weeks FE branches have sent in requisition requests to call a special FE sector conference (FESC). We have now received 20 requisitions from branches in the FE sector, and in accordance with UCU rule 16.11, a special further education sector conference will be held (online) on Saturday 13 April 2024.

University of Aberdeen: threat of compulsory redundancies withdrawn

Strike action by University of Aberdeen UCU members planned to start next week (Tuesday 12 March) has been called off as the university withdrew the threat of compulsory redundancies from 26 members of staff. Click here for the full story and comment from Aberdeen UCU branch chair.

Higher education: defend jobs and education

Please support the following university branches where UCU members are defending jobs and education:

  • Aston University: around 60 academics in the college of engineering and physical sciences have been told they are at risk of redundancy due to a proposal to close some chemistry programmes and rearrange many of the departments. As part of the fight against redundancies, Aston UCU has forced the university into extending the consultation period and will continue to campaign to remove all threats of compulsory redundancy
  • Goldsmiths, University of Londonan industrial action ballot opened on Friday 1 March in a dispute over potential large scale redundancies associated with the so-called 'transformation programme'. Join Goldsmiths UCU members for a rally on Monday 18 March at 13:00
  • University of Kent: an industrial action ballot opened on Friday 23 February in a dispute over 58 academic redundancies. UCU are determined to fight this academic vandalism and defend the university; members across the union can show your support by signing this petition
  • Northumbria University: Northumbria UCU members announced that they declared an industrial dispute. University senior management indicated that they would push through huge reductions in staff spending, and failed to rule out compulsory redundancies 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
  • Oxford Brookes University: the ongoing campaign against jobs cuts and restructuring at Oxford Brookes is entering a new phase. UCU reps are setting up a 'Save research at Brookes' committee and demanding a new redundancy avoidance policy. Students have been central to UCU's campaign, for which we thank them. For more information, or to send messages of support please contact Oxford Brookes UCU branch chair
  • SOAS, University of London: an indicative ballot has launched on taking strike action at SOAS over fire and rehire plans that place 34 staff at risk of losing their jobs and being rehired on worse terms and conditions. The cuts would eliminate all term time English-language and study skills support for international students.

UKRI investigation shows Secretary of State launched 'outrageous attack on academic freedom'

UCU has slammed the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan for her 'outrageous attack on academic freedom'.

The union was responding to the outcome of an independent investigation launched by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) after Donelan attacked members of the Research England Expert Advisory Group on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Click here to read the full statement from UCU general secretary Jo Grady.

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.

Prison education in FE Week

Click here to read a long article in FE Week on the current state of prison education. The model of education delivery is failing; there are cuts in funding, and massive recruitment and retention problems. UCU is campaigning and lobbying for much-needed changes. Contributors include Novus UCU chair Brian Hamilton and UCU head of further education Paul Bridge.

Future of work in post-16 education working group

The Future of work in post-16 education project includes a working group of UCU members to consider the policy and bargaining approach needed to address the increasing use of technology and artificial intelligence in education.

Having reviewed the expressions of interest received by the closing date, Black members, adult community education, prison education and Northern Ireland-based members are under-represented. In order to ensure this working group is properly representative of our union, we are reopening the expressions of interest for the working group and are particularly encouraging members in these under-represented groups to apply.

UCU continuing professional development workshops

Join us next week for the following 90-minute online interactive workshops that are free and open to all UCU members:

And look out for our regular Monday email to members with all the workshops running throughout the term.

Sustainable development goals teach-in

The Sustainable development goals (SDG) teach-in calls on all types of educators to pledge to embed the UN Sustainable development goals into their teaching, learning, training, and assessments throughout the month and beyond.

For the seventh year of this campaign, we are encouraging educators to #getstarted and #gofurther through four themed weeks of the teach-in. This is a great way to get involved with meaningful sustainability actions this new year in an accessible and supported way. Pledge to equip your students with the knowledge and competencies to take action!

Advanced British Standard consultation

The government is consulting on proposals to develop a new baccalaureate style 16-19 qualification that will see all students studying English and maths to the age of 18 and revise the A level and T level qualifications. UCU will be responding to the consultation and you can send your views to Angela Nartey by Friday 15 March 2024.

Webinar on changes to immigration rules

On Monday 25 March (12:30-13:30) UCU will host a webinar discussion covering recent changes to immigration rules and their impact on members. The session will be chaired by migrant members' standing committee (MMSC) chair Laura Loyola-Hernandez and will feature input from immigration lawyers Bindmans. Registration details will be circulated next week but in the meantime please submit any questions to Jenny Sherrard.

Ceasefire NOW! and webinar on trade union solidarity

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. We have a webpage that collates in one place all of our information, resources and events for UCU members and branches.

Join the webinar on trade union solidarity with Palestinian children and educators on Tuesday 12 March (18:00-19:00). Come and hear Palestinian trade unionists and educators discuss the situation on the ground, including the ongoing 'educide' taking place in Gaza, and how we can extend our solidarity work with Palestine in the UK. Speakers include UCU president Justine Mercer.

UCU's financial information statement

You can read a statement on the union's annual return for the year ended 31 August 2023 here, as required by Section 32A of Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Last updated: 18 March 2024