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Keele University national protest rally

3 April 2008

Members of UCU from around the country will be joining their colleagues at Keele University today as part of a protest at the university's plans which have left 38 staff facing redundancy.

This comprises more than half of the 67 academic staff in the world-renowned School of Economic and Management Studies (SEMS) and the Centre for Health Planning and Management (CHPM).

The protestors will lobby the university council meeting at 9.30am. They will be joined by UCU members from around the country for a march and rally. The march begins at 10.20 and will go from Walter Moberley building around the campus to the student union. The rally will take place in the Student Union Ballroom from 12.00. Confirmed speakers include Malcolm Keight, UCU head of higher education, Alastair Hunter, UCU vice-president, and Roger McKenzie, secretary of the Midlands TUC.

In December the union accused the university of ignoring normal procedures to rush through the proposed redundancies after Keele University Council established an unprecedented 'redundancy committee', which bypassed normal decision-making processes. Members of the union felt they were left with no alternative but to consider industrial action and, in February, voted overwhelmingly to strike and to take action short of a strike.

Lecturers in SEMS took the strike action on Thursday 21 February and the following day all UCU members at Keele began the action short of a strike. The action short of a strike is designed to cause the maximum impact on the university without disrupting the education of students. It includes:

  • non-cooperation with the institutional audit
  • non-cooperation with the development of new degree programmes for the new Business School
  • non-participation in Learning and Teaching committees and the design and approval of a new university-wide degree structure due to come into effect in September 2009
  • non-participation in visit days and open days
  • non-compliance with the collection of data for full economic costing.

Chair of the SEMS action committee at Keele University, Mike Ironside, said: 'We are calling on the university council not to take any further steps towards compulsory redundancy but instead to instruct management to work co-operatively with the staff in SEMS to protect courses and jobs.'

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The university's actions have already been condemned nationally and internationally today's event reinforces exactly what the academic community thinks of the university's plans. Keele UCU members have the full support of the national union in their continuing action and can rest assured that we will be fighting these nonsensical redundancy plans with them all the way.'

The rushed redundancies plan is not the first time Keele University has been accused of ignoring standard practice to try and push through controversial plans. During the pay dispute of 2006, where lecturers were not marking coursework or setting exams, Keele University agreed to award degrees based on work already submitted, rather than wait for a student's full marks.

That decision prompted serious questions about the potential quality of degrees at Keele with the Quality Assurance Agency refusing to back the plans. Fortunately the dispute was resolved before graduation day.

Last updated: 14 December 2015