Fund the future - site banner : This link opens in a new window

Covid-19 (coronavirus):
UCU has produced advice for members. Read the latest UCU operational note here.  Find more information and updates here.

Protect staff and students: sign the petition calling for fair funding and online learning in higher education!

Business of the education committee 2015

UCU Congress 2015: Saturday 23 May 2015, 16:30-17:45

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU635). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Section 5 of the NEC's report Congress

Motions:

1 - Education from cradle to grave
2 - Support the Reinstate Alison Hayman Campaign
3 - Membership of professional bodies
4 - Composite: The learner/student voice
5 - Misuse of learner voice
6 - The UCU in the post-constitutional referendum period
7 - The Barnett formula and the financing of devolution
8 - Composite: Southampton Conference, Defending Academic Freedom - UCU response
9 - Use of consultants by HE and FE institutions
10 - Composite: Transnational education, profit and human rights

(EP) advisory marking
denoting UCU existing policy

Access and widening participation, paragraphs 4.2-4.4

1  (EP) Education from cradle to grave - National Executive Committee

Congress notes and endorses the principle of education from cradle to grave which is at the centre of the work of the Education Committee and calls upon members to support:

  1. higher public funding for further, adult, offender, and higher education and research
  2. high quality formal and informal educational opportunities for all adults
  3. improved professional status for staff, partnership with students and a rejection of the idea of the 'learner as consumer'
  4. free and fair access to further, adult and higher education for all.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

1A.1  Composite: College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (Tottenham branch), Lambeth College, City and Islington College

Add at end:

'Congress further notes:

The continuing attacks on education.

Congress therefore believes:

  1. A campaign to defend 'cradle to the grave' education is needed.
  2. We must involve UCU members, students, unions and the public through; lobbying, public meetings, street stalls, demonstrations and strikes.

Congress resolves:

i. to call a national demonstration in defence of Post-16 education and approach the NUS and other educational unions to support.

ii. where possible to coordinate industrial action against funding cuts with other education unions.'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes and endorses the principle of education from cradle to grave which is at the centre of the work of the Education Committee and calls upon members to support:

  1. higher public funding for further, adult, offender, and higher education and research
  2. high quality formal and informal educational opportunities for all adults
  3. improved professional status for staff, partnership with students and a rejection of the idea of the 'learner as consumer'
  4. free and fair access to further, adult and higher education for all.

Congress further notes:

  • the continuing attacks on education.

Congress therefore believes:

  1. a campaign to defend 'cradle to the grave' education is needed.
  2. we must involve UCU members, students, unions and the public through; lobbying, public meetings, street stalls, demonstrations and strikes.

Congress resolves:

  1. to call a national demonstration in defence of Post-16 education and approach the NUS and other educational unions to support
  2. where possible to coordinate industrial action against funding cuts with other education unions.

The professional agenda, paragraph 4.8

2  Support the Reinstate Alison Hayman Campaign - University of Bristol

This Congress notes:

  1. Dr Alison Hayman, lecturer in the School of Veterinary Sciences, was recently dismissed by the University of Bristol (UoB).
  2. Alison was sacked following a capability and performance procedure (CPP) for failing to obtain enough external grant monies.
  3. Alison achieved one of the highest 'mock' REF 2014 scores in her school, and is recognised as an expert in her field.
  4. Alison found the over two-year long CPP 'extremely stressful'.
  5. academics at UoB have secured less grant funding (in comparable disciplines), yet haven't been subject to the same draconian process.
  6. Alison has the stigma of a performance-related dismissal on her record.

This Congress believes:

  1. Alison's dismissal isn't in keeping with UCU policy.
  2. Alison should be reinstated to her position as a matter of urgency.

This Congress resolves to support the current Reinstate Alison Hayman Campaign and to work towards reinstating Alison.

CARRIED


3  Membership of professional bodies - Academic-related, Professional Staff Committee

Congress notes that membership of professional bodies such as the CIPD or the IEEE is highly desirable, and in some cases membership may be mandated by the employer as a requirement for the role.

Congress believes:

  1. membership of professional bodies can bring benefits to institutions as well as to the individual.
  2. institutions should pay for all reasonable requests for membership of professional bodies and certainly where the institution is requiring such membership
  3. to refuse to support such membership is a further attack on the professional status of staff.

Congress calls on NEC to:

  1. investigate the current practice and policies regarding membership of professional bodies, and the impact on UCU members
  2. develop a policy and bargaining position in relation to the payment of fees of professional bodies.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

3A.1  Academic-related, Professional Staff Committee

Add point c., insert at end after 'payment of fees of professional bodies': 'and all activities related to remaining in good standing with the professional body'.

CARRIED


SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes that membership of professional bodies such as the CIPD or the IEEE is highly desirable, and in some cases membership may be mandated by the employer as a requirement for the role.

Congress believes:

  1. membership of professional bodies can bring benefits to institutions as well as to the individual.
  2. institutions should pay for all reasonable requests for membership of professional bodies and certainly where the institution is requiring such membership
  3. to refuse to support such membership is a further attack on the professional status of staff.

Congress calls on NEC to:

  1. investigate the current practice and policies regarding membership of professional bodies, and the impact on UCU members
  2. develop a policy and bargaining position in relation to the payment of fees of professional bodies and all activities related to remaining in good standing with the professional body.

4  Composite: The learner/student voice - South East Regional Committee, Open University

This Congress notes:

  1.  that anonymised student feedback can be misused against all teaching and lecturing staff
  2. that such feedback can be more immediately damaging to casualised staff, who can have their hours cut or be dismissed without due process, and who suffer high levels of anxiety from knowing this
  3. that there is evidence that student feedback adversely affects staff belonging to the equality groups
  4. that anonymised feedback can also be used to legitimise the victimisation of staff who have taken part in industrial action which has affected service to students
  5. the limited progress in implementing the FE Sector Conference motion in 2014 that agreed a campaign to 'oppose the redefinition of the learner as a consumer and to challenge the deference to the learner voice'
  6. that the NEC agreed a motion in December 2014 recognising that the learner voice was not just an issue for FE
  7. that members are now even more concerned about the misuse of the learner voice/student voice and that advice to branches is urgent.

Congress instructs the NEC:

  1. to prioritise the learner voice/student voice campaign
  2. to consult with NUS to agree a policy concerning appropriate use of the student voice while bearing in mind UCU's responsibility is to protect the rights of members
  3. to provide a model policy and legal and practical advice to branches on how to defend the rights of members affected by this issue, including casualised staff whose employment can be damaged very quickly by unfavourable student feedback.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

4A.1  University of Bath

After point 7, add point 8.:

8. that there are signs that the 'student voice' is being introduced into the bargaining process at local level

Insert new clause c after clause b and re-letter clauses accordingly:

c. to include in any agreement with NUS a clear statement that while we welcome opportunities to work and campaign together, SUs should not be involved in negotiating the terms and conditions of employment of our members.

CARRIED

4A.2  South East Regional Committee

  1. Delete all of point 1 and replace with: 'that student feedback, anonymised or otherwise, can and has been misused against teaching and lecturing staff'
  2. Delete 'anonymised' in point 4;
  3. Replace point (b) with 'to consult with the NUS and agree a UCU policy concerning appropriate use of the student voice while bearing in mind UCU's responsibility is to protect the rights of members'
  4. Add in c after 'policy' - 'for use at national and local level.'

CARRIED

4A.3  LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Add to point 3: 'or having protected characteristics'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

This Congress notes:

  1. that student feedback, anonymised or otherwise, can and has been misused against teaching and lecturing staff
  2. that such feedback can be more immediately damaging to casualised staff, who can have their hours cut or be dismissed without due process, and who suffer high levels of anxiety from knowing this
  3. that there is evidence that student feedback adversely affects staff belonging to the equality groups or having protected characteristics
  4. that feedback can also be used to legitimise the victimisation of staff who have taken part in industrial action which has affected service to students
  5. the limited progress in implementing the FE Sector Conference motion in 2014 that agreed a campaign to 'oppose the redefinition of the learner as a consumer and to challenge the deference to the learner voice'
  6. that the NEC agreed a motion in December 2014 recognising that the learner voice was not just an issue for FE
  7. that members are now even more concerned about the misuse of the learner voice/student voice and that advice to branches is urgent
  8. that there are signs that the 'student voice' is being introduced into the bargaining process at local level.

Congress instructs the NEC:

  1. to prioritise the learner voice/student voice campaign
  2. to consult with the NUS and agree a UCU policy concerning appropriate use of the student voice while bearing in mind UCU's responsibility is to protect the rights of members
  3. to include in any agreement with NUS a clear statement that while we welcome opportunities to work and campaign together, SUs should not be involved in negotiating the terms and conditions of employment of our members
  4. to provide a model policy for use at national and local level and legal and practical advice to branches on how to defend the rights of members affected by this issue, including casualised staff whose employment can be damaged very quickly by unfavourable student feedback.

5  Misuse of learner voice - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Challenging behaviour against LGBT people can lead to hostile relationships between staff and learners. Those who harbour but don't express such negative feelings may become hostile towards staff. Staff who are, or are assumed to be, LGBT may also be subject to hostility. This hostility could be reflected in feedback from learners. Congress believes that learner voice is a good thing but can also be used against staff. Congress is concerned about how learner feedback may be used by managers against staff out of context and without due regard to equality. This may lead to punitive action against a staff member or even loss of a job.

Congress determines to

  1. Investigate how LGBT staff feel about use of learner feedback
  2. Produce guidance about handling complaints in these equality areas
  3. Support sector action on voice for LGBTQI+ people who have multiple identities and might be more vulnerable to complaints and harassment.

CARRIED

Devolution, paragraph 4.10

6  The UCU in the post-constitutional referendum period - Glasgow Caledonian University

Congress welcomes UCU's neutrality on Scotland's independence, giving members freedom to campaign for the best educational values and policies, irrespective of the outcome.

Congress notes the success of UCU Scotland's Manifesto for the Referendum, setting the agenda for progressive developments within Scotland's distinct education system, together with the cross-union Re-imagining Universities conference bringing together parties hitherto divided by the referendum, with students and Scotland's civic society.

Congress notes the lessons for UCU from the positive energy of this debate, given the open, broad manner in which campaigning was undertaken.

Congress supports the work of the devolution working group, aiming to devolution proof UCU policies, so lessons gained from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be an integral part of UK strategy.

Congress believes discussions should be encouraged within UCU and its component national parts as to how UCU can most successfully work with, and aid our respective national TU federations.

CARRIED


7  The Barnett formula and the financing of devolution - UCU Wales Council

Congress notes that the introduction of the Barnett formula was a temporary measure and has long been seen by some to be out of date. The Holtham Commission estimated that Wales was losing out by £300m a year in 2010.

Congress believes the adverse way in which Wales receives its block grant from Westminster is having not just a detrimental effect on the Welsh FE and HE sectors in Wales but a crippling effect on the Welsh economy. Wales should receive its block grant as a proportion of need rather than population.

Congress resolves to call for a reform of the Barnett formula, in order to reverse the negative effects of austerity measures implemented by the government.

CARRIED

Academic freedom, paragraph 4.12

8  Composite: Southampton Conference, Defending Academic Freedom: UCU response - University of Brighton Grand Parade, Open University

Congress notes:

  1. academic freedom includes conferences and their defence against external pressure;
  2. Southampton management's surrender to political lobbying in cancelling the conference last month;
  3. over 15,000 petitioners, including participant scholars supportive of Israel, condemned the cancellation;
  4. the UCU website carried no information, and its press release reportedly stated, 'It is important that students and staff hear from all sides in any debate and have the opportunity to safely challenge views they disagree with.'

Congress believes, contrary to UCU press release, that:

  1. academic conferences sometimes include but are not necessarily debates;
  2. academic freedom does not require the representation of 'all sides' at Conferences;
  3. 'opportunity to safely challenge views' implies, given Southampton's rationale, support for cancellation;
  4. protests do not justify conference cancellations.

Congress requires the General Secretary to:

  1. publicly correct UCU's position, and reassert UCU's support for academic freedom, and detail its implications;
  2. condemn the Southampton cancellation;
  3. ask Southampton to ensure no repetition, and secure full compensation.

CARRIED

Governance and transparency, paragraph 4.13

9  Use of consultants by HE and FE institutions - Academic-related, Professional Staff Committee

Congress notes the extensive, and often inappropriate, use made of consultants in HE and FE institutions and expresses concern at the cost and at the deleterious effect on the careers of UCU members.

In order to gauge the extent of the problem, Congress calls on UCU to

  1. Determine the amount spent by institutions on consultants, using FOI requests if necessary
  2. Raise awareness of the issue, including naming and shaming of institutions, where appropriate
  3. Campaign to reduce inappropriate use of consultants, and to ensure that knowledge is transferred to staff where possible.

CARRIED

New heading: Overseas campuses

10  Composite: Transnational education, profit and human rights - National Executive Committee, City of Oxford College

Congress notes that increasing numbers of UK universities and FE colleges have established branch campuses and joint ventures overseas. The main motivation seems to be making money rather than providing education. These transnational education partnerships are often in countries with very poor or appalling human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and the UAE. Congress believes that these partnerships raise significant ethical, financial, employment and equality issues.

Congress welcomes the 2010 UCU guidance on overseas working in higher education (UCUHE42) as well as the new practical negotiating guidance on equality issues (UCUHE247) and on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Congress calls on:

  1. branches to use and disseminate the guidance, in both FE and HE
  2. the NEC to develop cross-sectoral campaign materials for branches on transnational education partnerships
  3. the NEC to monitor such developments and to voice strong opposition to such plans where human rights are not guaranteed.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

10A.1  University of Liverpool

Point 1: Replace 'branches to use and disseminate the guidance' with 'NEC to ensure all guidance is up to date and branches to disseminate widely...'

Point 3: add 'and employment' after 'where human'.

Insert new 4: NEC to connect where possible with existing democratic Trade Unions in relevant countries and make this information available to branches.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes that increasing numbers of UK universities and FE colleges have established branch campuses and joint ventures overseas. The main motivation seems to be making money rather than providing education. These transnational education partnerships are often in countries with very poor or appalling human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and the UAE. Congress believes that these partnerships raise significant ethical, financial, employment and equality issues.

Congress welcomes the 2010 UCU guidance on overseas working in higher education (UCUHE42) as well as the new practical negotiating guidance on equality issues (UCUHE247) and on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Congress calls on:

  1. NEC to ensure all guidance is up to date and branches to disseminate widely, in both FE and HE
  2. the NEC to develop cross-sectoral campaign materials for branches on transnational education partnerships
  3. the NEC to monitor such developments and to voice strong opposition to such plans where human and employment rights are not guaranteed
  4. NEC to connect where possible with existing democratic trade unions in relevant countries and make this information available to branches.
Last updated: 23 May 2015