Fighting together for USS

Sarah Brown (Anglia Ruskin University)


Election address

I have over 20 years' experience working in HE, and took up my current post as Professor of English Literature at Anglia Ruskin University in 2006. I have worked in several different institutions across the sector and have considerable experience of governance processes.  At Lucy Cavendish College I was a member of the College's Governing Body (2002-6) which had oversight of the legal and financial aspects of the College's work as well as teaching and research issues.  At Anglia Ruskin I was Chair of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee from 2006-13.

In 2011 I became Assistant Branch Secretary at ARU, and have served as Branch Secretary since 2013. I am a member of the branch negotiating team, representing the branch and its members in negotiations with management at ARU. I am also an active caseworker in my branch, supporting members in difficult circumstances, and am thus well aware of the kinds of pressures which members face in their day-to-day work. Last year I was a Congress delegate and speaker, an experience which made me still more aware of the wide range of issues and policies that UCU has to deal with.

Colleagues in the sector find their working conditions affected by issues such as casualisation, job insecurity, increasingly complex and challenging demands, de- professionalization and unmanageable workloads, as well as by an erosion of pay and pensions. Meanwhile the government's draconian anti-union legislation - widely criticised by civil liberties activists - seems set to undermine unions' ability to take action against such measures.

I believe that the union should focus on core trade union issues; concerns over these have helped drive successful local campaigns against zero-hours contracts, attacks on pay/conditions and TeachHigher, the proposed scheme at Warwick for outsourcing hourly-paid lecturers. This was defeated after a vigorous campaign by UCU which warned that the scheme would leave members with inferior terms and conditions.

Although almost all members will be affected by worsening conditions in HE and FE, there is disagreement about how best to tackle the problems we face. As an NEC member I would argue for consultation with members and branches on important issues such as pay or pensions disputes.

Last updated: 1 February 2016