Higher Education Sector Conference 2017

UCU Congress 2017: Sunday 27 May 2017, 09:00-18:00

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU785). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Motions:

HE1 - HE pay
HE2 - National and local action
HE3 - Industrial strategy
HE4 - E-ballots
HE5 - National pay bargaining
HE6 - Involving members in HE pay strategies
HE7 - Winning industrial action under the new anti-trade union legislation
HE8 - Support for maximum wage differential
HE9 - Dispute at Manchester Metropolitan University
L4 - University of Manchester
L5 - Edge Hill University
HE10 - University of Leeds
HE11 - USS
HE12 - The glass staircase
HE13 - Supporting local gender pay and precarious employment campaigns
HE14 - Gender pay in higher education
HE15 - Policies and LGBT+ equality in HE
HE16 - Covert variable hours contracts
HE17 - Teaching-only contracts
HE18 - Compliance reporting for fixed-term research project employment
HE19 - Checklists for the ratification of UCU agreements on hourly paid staff
HE20 - Framework Agreement, forgotten promises and NRP-HP
HE21 - TU involvement in grading and outcomes for ARP staff
HE22 - Two-stage capability policies
HE23 - Continuing the campaign against privatisation of higher education
HE24 - Workload and stress
HE25 - Mental health
HE26 - The Stern Review of REF: tackling the negative consequences
HE27 - Gender equality and teaching observation and assessment  schemes
HE28 - Academic freedom
HE29 - Funding and widening access to higher education
HE30 - Teaching Excellence Framework
HE31 - National Student Survey (NSS) as a metric for teaching excellence
HE32 - Disabled members and the TEF
HE33 - Campaign to protect modern foreign languages in higher education
HE34 - LGBT+ inclusive HE curriculum
HE35 - Opposing quality exercises which are linked to increasing student fee
HE36 - Graduate destinations as a measure of teaching quality
HE37 - Journal of Higher Education Union Studies
HE38 - London Met censure and academic boycott
HE39 - MMU compulsory redundancies
HE40 - Defending academic freedom and governance
HE41 - Use of consultants in HE
HE42 - A UK strategy for student-staff alliance
HE43 - Supporting staff affected by Brexit
HE44 - Trump

(EP) advisory marking denoting UCU existing policy


New paragraph, Collective bargaining on pay, equality and pensions


HE1  HE Pay - Higher Education Committee

HE Sector Conference notes the report and approves the recommendations of the national negotiators contained in UCUBANHE/16.

HESC voted on the six recommendations contained in UCUBANHE/16 in parts:
recommendation 1: CARRIED
recommendation 2: LOST
recommendation 3: CARRIED
recommendation 4: CARRIED
recommendation 5: CARRIED
recommendation 6: CARRIED

CARRIED AS AMENDED


HE2  National and local action - University of Brighton, Grand Parade

Conference notes:

  1. the series of unsuccessful national campaigns
  2. the Trade Union Bill's alteration to ballot thresholds impeding industrial action
  3. threats of pay docking that are intended to deter ASOS
  4. the particular difficulty created for national action.

Conference believes:

  1. without national action, national terms and conditions will be eroded in post-92s
  2. across the sector only the strongest branches will make gains while conditions for members in most will deteriorate
  3. branches will continually seek to improve terms and conditions of members and the gender pay gap, and to reduce casualisation locally, but UCU also needs a national industrial strategy
  4. a national strategy needs to contain a clear plan for escalation in response to management intimidation if it is to be credible
  5. regional committees must be at the centre of co-ordinating solidarity and support for local disputes.

Conference resolves:

  1. a special sector conference in autumn will determine a national UCU industrial strategy.

CARRIED UNAMENDED

HE2A.1  Higher Education Committee

Replace 'unsuccessful' with 'difficult' in point 1.

LOST 

HE2A.2  Northumbria University

Replace Conference resolves point i. with: 'i. to hold a consultative sector conference in the autumn of 2017 to consider the future of UCU HE strategy.'

LOST


HE3  Industrial strategy - University of Bath

Given the repeated failure of industrial action to win concessions on pay and pensions in higher education, and the increased difficulty of organising industrial action under the Trade Union Act 2016, it is clear that we must make provision for alternative forms of industrial action. These should include the option of indefinite strike at a small numbers of institution, funded by members at non-striking institutions.

Conference then instructs HEC to develop a framework for industrial action which can be implemented on a branch-by-branch basis, to include:

  1. a mechanism for selecting individual branches which will be called out
  2. a means for setting and collecting a levy to be used to fund action at those branches
  3. a method of deciding when and how to cease industrial action at those branches
  4. guidance to branches and regional committees on campaigning in support of striking branches.

LOST


HE4  E-ballots - South East Regional HE Sector Committee

Sector conference:

  1. recognises the centrality and the difficulty of union communication. Not all of the levels of our union have clear, consistent and popular channels of communication
  2. recognises the temptation to use electronic communication - in particular online surveys and emails - to substitute for rather than to complement face-to-face meetings
  3. wishes to reiterate a commitment to face-to-face meetings as part of the core substantive democracy of our union. From local to national level, discussions - not consultations - are key to developing a campaigning, recruitment and industrial strategy fit for the twenty-first century
  4. calls for:
    a.   more support for branches from those leading UCU nationally. Elected HEC members must be resourced to visit branches in their region annually or more often where necessary
    b.   e-ballots should not be used to make decisions on industrial action. They reproduce rather than ameliorate members' alienation from their branches, regions, national structures.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE4A.1  Higher Education Committee

In point 1., delete the full stop at the end of the first sentence and 'Not all of the levels of our union' at the beginning of the second sentence and replace with : 'and the need for all levels of the union to'

Add new point 4.: 'notes the importance of the new Get the Vote Out strategy' and then renumber existing 4. as 5.

In new 5.  add at end of a.: 'especially during Get the Vote Out campaigning'

Delete b.

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Sector conference:

  1. recognises the centrality and the difficulty of union communication and the need for all levels of the union to have clear, consistent and popular channels of communication
  2. recognises the temptation to use electronic communication - in particular online surveys and emails - to substitute for rather than to complement face-to-face meetings
  3. wishes to reiterate a commitment to face-to-face meetings as part of the core substantive democracy of our union. From local to national level, discussions - not consultations - are key to developing a campaigning, recruitment and industrial strategy fit for the twenty-first century
  4. notes the importance of the new Get the Vote Out strategy
  5. calls for:
    a.   more support for branches from those leading UCU nationally. Elected HEC members must be resourced to visit branches in their region annually or more often where necessary especially during Get the Vote Out campaigning

HE5  National pay bargaining - University of Leeds

This HE Sector Conference notes the following from the General Secretary:

'That means changing the way we negotiate taking the fight for fair pay and reduced workloads to institution level where the money is if the employers won't negotiate seriously nationally.'

This HE Sector Conference believes:

  1. when we fight together in unity, the stronger sections of the union give confidence to bring the weaker ones into the action
  2. breaking down into local bargaining would destroy any prospects of fair and equal pay
  3. agreeing and carrying out an effective industrial action strategy to its conclusion has the greatest chance of defeating intransigent employers.

This HE Sector Conference re-affirms:

  1. UCU's commitment to national pay bargaining.

CARRIED


HE6 (EP)  Involving members in HE Pay strategies - Yorkshire and Humberside Regional HE Sector Committee

Noting the lessons of previous pay claims, HESC calls for:

  1. full involvement of branches and regions in the development of industrial action strategies
  2. reports to regional briefing meetings on the achievements of local negotiations on gender pay gaps and job security
  3. provision for feedback from members through branches, regional and national meetings.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE6A.1  Anti-Casualisation Committee

Add new point 4: 'ensuring mechanisms are devised to fully include staff on casualised contracts in the development of industrial and industrial action strategies, with full recognition of the relationship between the fight against casualisation and the fight for fair pay for all.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Noting the lessons of previous pay claims, HESC calls for:

  1. full involvement of branches and regions in the development of industrial action strategies
  2. reports to regional briefing meetings on the achievements of local negotiations on gender pay gaps and job security
  3. provision for feedback from members through branches, regional and national meetings
  4. ensuring mechanisms are devised to fully include staff on casualised contracts in the development of industrial and industrial action strategies, with full recognition of the relationship between the fight against casualisation and the fight for fair pay for all.

HE7 (EP)  Winning industrial action under the new anti-trade union legislation - Glasgow Caledonian University

Conference congratulates UCU branches and HEC on the work undertaken during our recent industrial action, but notes that despite best efforts we were unsuccessful in achieving more than the imposed 1.1% pay increase.

Conference notes nevertheless that issues of the gender pay gap and anti-casualisation remain on the table for continuing discussion with local managements and at a UK level.

Conference notes that under the new anti-trade union legislation there will be increasing difficulties in launching industrial action of the type we have undertaken in recent years without a much greater involvement by branch members both in the ballot and in activity locally and nationally.

Conference believes that key to members involvement is the creation of a union culture that is welcoming as well as combative, and that the HEC should discuss how best to create the type of culture that makes union involvement the norm for staff in HE.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE7A.1  Yorkshire and Humberside Regional HE Sector Committee

Add at end of motion:

'Such a positive union culture could include:

  • a visible UCU presence in the workplace
  • well-attended union meetings
  • a good local website
  • a shop steward system to get the vote out
  • union reps in all departments
  • an active branch committee
  • effective local bargaining and campaigning.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference congratulates UCU branches and HEC on the work undertaken during our recent industrial action, but notes that despite best efforts we were unsuccessful in achieving more than the imposed 1.1% pay increase.

Conference notes nevertheless that issues of the gender pay gap and anti-casualisation remain on the table for continuing discussion with local managements and at a UK level.

Conference notes that under the new anti-trade union legislation there will be increasing difficulties in launching industrial action of the type we have undertaken in recent years without a much greater involvement by branch members both in the ballot and in activity locally and nationally.

Conference believes that key to members involvement is the creation of a union culture that is welcoming as well as combative, and that the HEC should discuss how best to create the type of culture that makes union involvement the norm for staff in HE.

Such a positive union culture could include:

  • a visible UCU presence in the workplace
  • well-attended union meetings
  • a good local website
  • a shop steward system to get the vote out
  • union reps in all departments
  • an active branch committee
  • effective local bargaining and campaigning.

HE8  Support for maximum wage differential - University of Newcastle

Conference notes that skyrocketing executive pay at universities, coupled with average real-terms pay decreases, is pushing wage inequality within universities to unacceptable levels. This exacerbates the gender pay gap, overvalues the contributions of senior management relative to academic and support staff, and undermines the collegial nature of academia.

Conference believes that a maximum 20:1 pay differential should be adhered to within all UK higher educational institutions.

Conference instructs the HEC to include the demand for a 20:1 maximum pay differential within its future pay negotiations.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE8A.1  University of Bath

Delete second paragraph and replace with: 'Congress reaffirms its belief (2012, Congress motion 12) that the highest pay in an institution should be no more than ten times the lowest.'

In third paragraph, delete '20:1' and insert '10:1'.

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes that skyrocketing executive pay at universities, coupled with average real-terms pay decreases, is pushing wage inequality within universities to unacceptable levels. This exacerbates the gender pay gap, overvalues the contributions of senior management relative to academic and support staff, and undermines the collegial nature of academia.

Congress reaffirms its belief (2012, Congress motion 12) that the highest pay in an institution should be no more than ten times the lowest.

Conference instructs the HEC to include the demand for a 10:1 maximum pay differential within its future pay negotiations.


HE9  Dispute at Manchester Metropolitan University - Manchester Metropolitan University

HESC notes the:

  1. MMU decision to close Cheshire campus resulting in up to 370 redundancies
  2. payment of a private company to prepare related 'business case'
  3. lack of independent evaluation of the impact on the community
  4. substitution of a market-oriented rationale for academic provision, in place of effective redeployment strategy
  5. further imminent cuts at city sites being directly linked to student survey scores
  6. justification by management based on provisions of the HE Bill. 

HESC agrees to: 

  1. highlight systemic discrimination in student access to higher education consequent on reduction in capacity, especially through cuts to institutions which have track record of widening participation
  2. oppose private sector collaborations which undermine academic independence and jobs
  3. oppose the use of redundancy as a means of re-organisation
  4. promote the value of e-balloting as used in MMU campaign to resist compulsory redundancies.

CARRIED


L4  University of Manchester

Conference notes that:

  1. the University of Manchester is threatening to make 140 academics and 31 support staff redundant, with over 900 staff initially at risk
  2. a meeting of 288 UMUCU members voted nem com in favour of holding a consultative ballot on industrial action if the university refuses to remove the threat of compulsory redundancy
  3. in 2015/16 the university had total reserves of £1.5bn, including £430m in cash reserves, and recorded a surplus of £59.7m. There is therefore no financial crisis to justify compulsory redundancies now or in the immediate future
  4. the threats to jobs at Manchester University and MMU have major implications for the HE Sector.

Conference calls on both Manchester universities to commit to no compulsory redundancies and to work with the recognised trade unions in achieving this, and on UCU to commit resources to their local branches to fight these attacks on jobs.

CARRIED BY ACCLAMATION


L5  Edge Hill University

On 12th May 2017, six UCU members of Edge Hill University's Faculty of Education were issued with notice of compulsory redundancy. The deadline for concluding the process is 26th May. Although management assured members of their intention to 'genuinely' engage in discussions concerning their business case none of the managers concerned were available for consultations for the first four days of the following week.  Prior to this announcement, management gave no indication that these redundancies were imminent, despite months of talks between UCU and university senior management concerning mis-management of the faculty.

The timescale from notice to finish is a worryingly unparalleled 19 days. The branch, assisted by our regional officers, is working to extend this and assure our members of fair treatment.

We call on conference to:

  1. condemn the actions of Edge Hill University Management
  2. support members with legal resource to challenge Fast Track Redundancy.

CARRIED BY ACCLAMATION


HE10  Statutes - University of Leeds

Conference notes that UCU has declared a dispute of national significance with the University of Leeds over its proposed new statutes, and that UCU has balloted its branch membership for industrial action, following an indicative ballot showing a 74% majority in favour of industrial action.

Conference opposes:

  1. the introduction of a new procedure for dismissal for Some Other Substantial Reason
  2. the withdrawal of the right to an independent, medically qualified expert at Appeal stage in Ill-Health procedure
  3. the withdrawal of the right to an independent, legally qualified expert at Appeal Stage for all other procedures in Statute

Conerence resolves that if the university does not reach agreement with UCU, UCU will move to defend academic freedom by moving to the censure and academic boycott of the University of Leeds.

CARRIED


HE11 USS - Higher Education Committee

HE Sector conference notes the report and approves the recommendations of the Superannuation Working Group contained in UCUBANHE/17.

CARRIED


HE12  The glass staircase - Disabled Members Standing Committee

In a fully inclusive workplace a person's disability should not provide a barrier to career progression, however it does appear that disabled members are underrepresented in senior University leadership positions. Equality demographics data is often only provided for the total work place population, which obscures the true numbers of senior staff with a disability. Women's rights groups have often argued that there is a glass ceiling that impedes progress to management positions, but is there a 'glass staircase' preventing disabled people working to their full potential?

Conference calls upon Higher Education Committee to:

  1. use Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to analyse the true proportion of UK senior University disabled leaders. This information will provide a real indication of just how inclusive the UK HE workplace is
  2. raise the results of the research with the employers and campaign for inclusive promotion and progression policies in HE.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE12A.1  Higher Education Committee

In line 1 replace 'a person's disability' by 'being disabled'

In the second sentence, add 'disabled' before 'senior staff' and delete 'with a disability'.

In bullet point 1.:

replace 'UK senior University disabled leaders' by 'disabled staff at all levels in UK universities, including in senior leadership positions. This should include data on black, female and LGBT+ disabled staff at all levels, including senior leaders'.     

CARRIED

Substantive motion

In a fully inclusive workplace being disabled should not provide a barrier to career progression, however it does appear that disabled members are underrepresented in senior University leadership positions. Equality demographics data is often only provided for the total work place population, which obscures the true numbers of disabled senior staff. Women's rights groups have often argued that there is a glass ceiling that impedes progress to management positions, but is there a 'glass staircase' preventing disabled people working to their full potential?

Conference calls upon Higher Education Committee to:

  1. use Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to analyse the true proportion of disabled staff at all levels in UK universities, including in senior leadership positions. This should include data on black, female and LGBT+ disabled staff at all levels, including senior leaders. This information will provide a real indication of just how inclusive the UK HE workplace is
  2. raise the results of the research with the employers and campaign for inclusive promotion and progression policies in HE.

HE13  (EP)  Supporting local Gender pay and precarious employment campaigns - Higher Education Committee

Conference welcomes the HEC's actions over 2016/17 to tackle precarious work and the gender pay gap in higher education. This work has included raising the public profile of these issues, increasing campaigning leverage for our branches and providing detailed guidance and model letters to branches and regions to assist negotiators.

Conference notes that with the circulation of the national model claims, more branches than ever are engaged in campaigning and negotiating on precarious work and the gender pay gap.

  1. conference calls on the HEC to continue work to secure more agreements on casualisation and the gender pay gap and to ensure that examples of good practice are publicised and disseminated throughout the union
  2. conference further calls for the HEC and branches to embed recruitment into all future precarious and gender pay activity.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE13A.1  Women Members Standing Committee

Add point 3.:

'3.  Conference calls for increased facility time for local negotiators and more involvement of new representatives in local negotiations.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference welcomes the HEC's actions over 2016/17 to tackle precarious work and the gender pay gap in higher education. This work has included raising the public profile of these issues, increasing campaigning leverage for our branches and providing detailed guidance and model letters to branches and regions to assist negotiators.

Conference notes that with the circulation of the national model claims, more branches than ever are engaged in campaigning and negotiating on precarious work and the gender pay gap.

  1. conference calls on the HEC to continue work to secure more agreements on casualisation and the gender pay gap and to ensure that examples of good practice are publicised and disseminated throughout the union
  2. conference further calls for the HEC and branches to embed recruitment into all future precarious and gender pay activity
  3. conference calls for increased facility time for local negotiators and more involvement of new representatives in local negotiations.

HE14  Gender pay in Higher Education - Women Members Standing Committee

Conference welcomes the HE campaign to end the gender pay gap. The gap acknowledges that not only does gender discrimination create pay inequality but also poor maternity rights, lack of flexible working and affordable childcare to support work/life balance. This means the traditional pipeline to progression at work is blocked.  Return to work often means a return to a precarious contract. 

Women's pay is an issue for all of us and collective action means a collective voice on saying no to pay discrimination.

Conference calls for:

  1. HEC to deliver on this national campaign ensuring intersecting issues such as women on casual contracts, black and disabled women's pay are part of the conversation and action
  2. the rate for the job website to include women's career progression, impact of casualisation on women's pay and highlight the impact of any successes at local level
  3. HE equal pay cases to be identified and prioritised.

CARRIED


HE15  Policies and LGBT+ Equality in HE - LGBT Members Standing Committee

Conference notes:

  1. the inconsistent and variable policies relating to LGBT issues in the HE sector
  2. the fact that many of these policies are significantly out of date in their approach to issues such as HIV status and discrimination issues
  3. the need for policies affecting LBGT staff in HE to be in line with current legislation and health research.

Conference therefore instructs HEC:

  1. to ask all HE branches to provide information about current policies impacting on LGBT people in their institution
  2. the use this information to work with UUK's Equality Challenge Unit to update and harmonise policies impacting on LGBT people and issues in HE institutions
  3. to report progress on this work to Congress 2018.

CARRIED


New paragraph, Casualisation and workforce composition


HE16  Covert variable hours contracts - Open University

Conference reaffirms the view that all contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours or a minimum quantity of paid work are zero hours contracts.

Conference also believes that minimum hours are not 'guaranteed' if the contract allows the employer to reduce hours below the minimum without mutual agreement or a redundancy process, and that a minimum must be an ongoing minimum rather than a percentage of the previous year's hours.

Conference resolves that all purported FTE or fractional contracts containing clauses allowing the employer to reduce hours and pay should not be considered fixed FTE contracts, but should be judged against HE policy, guidance and criteria for variable hours contracts. They should also be considered zero hours contracts if there is no genuinely guaranteed minimum.

Conference asks the HEC to ensure that this is reflected in HE ratification checklists and guidance and make sure it is widely known.

CARRIED


HE17  Composite: Teaching Only Contracts - University of Brighton, Falmer, Anti-casualisation Committee

HESC congratulates activists who have campaigned to expose the unfairness of casualised contracts.  It welcomes UCU's efforts to end these contracts where they are not wanted by employees and replace them with contracts with guaranteed contact, teaching-related and research and scholarship hours.

Conference notes that some employers, while ostensibly moving away from zero hours contracts because they have been shamed by UCU, are trying to bring in teaching-only contracts as a way to reduce their wage bill or to render their employee pool more flexible.

Conference is deeply concerned about the introduction of inferior 'Teaching Only' contracts as a 'solution' to various appalling casualised contracts across HE. We note the example of London Metropolitan University where teaching focussed contracts ignore:

  1. workload constraints (550 FST maximum)
  2. contractual provision for research and scholarly activity
  3. pay is not equal to the post-92 national contract fractional position
  4. annual incremental progression opportunities.

Though a step up for some HPLs these contracts can be significantly weaker than permanent contracts. Across all universities HPLs need a fair academic contract with guarantees of scholarly activity and research.

HESC resolves to:

  1. defend the academic contract with the full repertoire of its resources, up to and including industrial action
  2. mount a public campaign in defence of the link between teaching and research
  3. work with the NUS to ensure that the student community knows the value of having staff who are fully resourced to do research and to engage in scholarly activity.

We call on UCU to:

  1. map the introduction of teaching only contracts for HPLs across HE, including national data on the provisions they attack
  2. ensure any such contracts provide reasonable, equitable terms to substantive staff contracts including adequate time for scholarly activity and/or research
  3. launch a national  campaign for equitable academic contracts for all HPL staff.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE17A.1  North West Regional HE Sector Committee

After 'guarantees of scholarly activity and research' at end of paragraph four insert:

'We are concerned that individual post-92 institutions are introducing local and piecemeal changes to workload and RASA, and that these effectively constitute a breach of the Contract and its detailed prescriptions.'

After point c., insert:

'd. Survey post-92 institutions to gather evidence on the scale of the breach of the Post-92 Contract.

e. Initiate a national campaign in defence of the Contract, including education of members in its provisions.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

HESC congratulates activists who have campaigned to expose the unfairness of casualised contracts.  It welcomes UCU's efforts to end these contracts where they are not wanted by employees and replace them with contracts with guaranteed contact, teaching-related and research and scholarship hours.

Conference notes that some employers, while ostensibly moving away from zero hours contracts because they have been shamed by UCU, are trying to bring in teaching-only contracts as a way to reduce their wage bill or to render their employee pool more flexible.

Conference is deeply concerned about the introduction of inferior 'Teaching Only' contracts as a 'solution' to various appalling casualised contracts across HE. We note the example of London Metropolitan University where teaching focussed contracts ignore:

  1. workload constraints (550 FST maximum)
  2. contractual provision for research and scholarly activity
  3. pay is not equal to the post-92 national contract fractional position
  4. annual incremental progression opportunities.

Though a step up for some HPLs these contracts can be significantly weaker than permanent contracts. Across all universities HPLs need a fair academic contract with guarantees of scholarly activity and research we are concerned that individual post-92 institutions are introducing local and piecemeal changes to workload and RASA, and that these effectively constitute a breach of the contract and its detailed prescriptions.

HESC resolves to:

  1. defend the academic contract with the full repertoire of its resources, up to and including industrial action
  2. mount a public campaign in defence of the link between teaching and research
  3. work with the NUS to ensure that the student community knows the value of having staff who are fully resourced to do research and to engage in scholarly activity.

We call on UCU to:

  1. map the introduction of teaching only contracts for HPLs across HE, including national data on the provisions they attack
  2. ensure any such contracts provide reasonable, equitable terms to substantive staff contracts including adequate time for scholarly activity and/or research
  3. launch a national  campaign for equitable academic contracts for all HPL staff
  4. survey post-92 institutions to gather evidence on the scale of the breach of the Post-92 Contract
  5. initiate a national campaign in defence of the contract, including education of members in its provisions.

HE18  Compliance reporting for fixed-term research project employment - University of Oxford

Conference notes the increasing numbers of academic staff recruited as fixed-term staff (postdoctoral researchers, research officers and the like), and the great variance in their knowledge of employment rights and conditions of service and severance.

Conference calls upon Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Wellcome Trust and other major research funding bodies to include a mandatory question on grant reporting documentation to be filled in by Principal Investigators (PIs) and administrators in final reporting, asking them to confirm that all fixed-term employees have been notified of their employment rights and severance options (including statutory and employer-specific redeployment and retention rights) and have been paid all due benefits including severance benefits. 

Conference notes that UCU could offer to support such bodies on developing appropriate wording.

CARRIED


HE19  Checklists for the ratification of UCU agreements on Hourly Paid Staff  - London Metropolitan University, City Branch

Higher Education Conference notes with concern:

  1. there are hourly-paid lecturers (HPLs) not yet assimilated to the pay and grading scales under the Framework Agreement
  2. for others, assimilation has been made while retaining precarious contracts.

Conference:

  1. welcomes the work of the National Review Panel - Hourly Paid (NRP-HP) on proposed local agreements in both cases
  2. notes that the nationally agreed checklist for assimilation proposals has not always been readily accessible to branch committees or members of NRP-HP
  3. HESC calls on HEC to ensure branch committee members, branch negotiators, regional offices, and all NRP-HP members have access to:
    i. the nationally agreed checklist to assess the acceptability of proposed agreements that deal with the assimilation of hourly paid staff
    ii. an adapted checklist, produced in consultation with ACC and NRP-HP, to assess the acceptability of proposed 'non-assimilation' agreements for new contracts for HPLs who have been assimilated on precarious contracts.

CARRIED


HE20  Framework Agreement, forgotten promises and NRP-HP - Anti-Casualisation Committee

Conference notes that:

  1. many pre-92 universities agreed local Framework implementations including commitments to assimilate hourly paid staff
  2. such commitments remain (partly or wholly) unfulfilled in some institutions, and may have been forgotten
  3. HP ratification originated in belated Framework 'assimilation' of HPLs in pre-92s, in which some local negotiators had not understood the significance of casualising clauses
  4. some employers still seek to insert casualising clauses in contracts appearing to offer reasonable job security.

Conference asks HEC to:

  1. ensure national and local archives (if available) are used to retrieve unfulfilled commitments to assimilate HP staff, and to draw them to the attention of local branch officers/reps, especially those responsible for Anti-Casualisation or for representing HP staff
  2. issue guidance on casualising clauses to branches and ratification bodies
  3. continue with current arrangements for representation of casualised members on the NRP-HP, involving the nationally elected HEC casualised representative and a member put forward by ACC.

CARRIED


HE21  TU involvement in grading and outcomes for ARP Staff - Academic Related, Professional Staff Committee

Conference notes that, where the Framework Agreement is being broken by institutions excluding trade union representatives from involvement in job evaluation and grading processes, the outcome for academic-related, professional staff is often considerably worse than for academic staff.

Conference calls on the HEC to survey branches to establish:

  1. whether there is meaningful trade union involvement in the institution's job evaluation and grading process
  2. whether that process produces outcomes that are detrimental to academic-related, professional staff, when compared with those for academic staff.

CARRIED


HE22  Two-Stage Capability Policies - University College London

Conference notes:

  1. a new imposed capability policy at University College London that reduces three formal stages to two
  2. that UCL has expressed a desire to introduce a 'Performance Development Review' scheme linked to capability
  3. the abolition of the default retirement age means that compulsory dismissal tends to mean large redundancy payments, and therefore motivates capability-based dismissals.

Conference believes that 'capability' policies in HE tend to be ineffective for improving performance for a range of reasons: they encourage artificial target-setting and 'game playing', discourage speculative research activity and collaboration, and undermine collegiality and trust.

Conference resolves:

  1. to actively and publicly oppose any 'new norm' of two-stage capability procedures
  2. to support campaigns against intensified capability schemes at UCL and elsewhere
  3. to join with NUS, sister trade unions and other organisations to highlight the threat posed by such schemes to the academic mission of the sector.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE22A.1  Higher Education Committee

After point 3. add:

'Conference reaffirms its support for the abolition of the default retirement age.'

In the paragraph beginning, 'Conference believes', insert  after 'Conference': 'reaffirms its opposition to the use of 'Capability' policies to get rid of staff and'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes:

  1. a new imposed capability policy at University College London that reduces three formal stages to two
  2. that UCL has expressed a desire to introduce a 'Performance Development Review' scheme linked to capability
  3. the abolition of the default retirement age means that compulsory dismissal tends to mean large redundancy payments, and therefore motivates capability-based dismissals
  4. conference reaffirms its support for the abolition of the default retirement age.

Conference reaffirms its opposition to the use of 'capability' policies to get rid of staff and believes that 'capability' policies in HE tend to be ineffective for improving performance for a range of reasons: they encourage artificial target-setting and 'game playing', discourage speculative research activity and collaboration, and undermine collegiality and trust.

Conference resolves:

  1. to actively and publicly oppose any 'new norm' of two-stage capability procedures
  2. to support campaigns against intensified capability schemes at UCL and elsewhere
  3. to join with NUS, sister trade unions and other organisations to highlight the threat posed by such schemes to the academic mission of the sector.

New paragraph, Recognition and organisation


HE23  Continuing the campaign against privatisation of higher education - Higher Education Committee, Yorkshire and Humberside Regional HE Sector Committee

HESC notes that, whatever the outcome of the HE Bill, UCU will need to continue to campaign against privatisation in the HE sector and against the entry of private for-profit providers into the sector.

To this end HESC instructs the HEC to:

  1. maintain lobbying and campaigning for a robust regulatory framework which protects academic freedom and academic standards, student welfare, fair employment practices for university staff, and the international standing of UK higher education
  2. explore the feasibility and usefulness of establishing, in conjunction with NUS and relevant educational and professional associations, independent monitoring arrangements which keep a watching brief and report periodically on developments in the private for-profit sector, including entry and exit of providers from the sector, student and staff complaints and grievances, and matters of academic standards and governance.

CARRIED


Work-life balance and safe, sustainable workplaces, paragraph 8.1


HE24  Composite: Workload and Stress - Higher Education Committee, University of Glasgow

Conference recognises the work and commitment of members who have campaigned to ensure University workplaces and practices are not detrimental to physical or mental health.  Health and safety is rightly a key priority for our union.

Numerous factors across the sector, including workload, performance management, managerialism, and precarious employment have contributed to growing numbers of colleagues being medically unfit for work due to work-related stress.  However, many employers have been slow to tackle work related mental health issues or to identify steps to support safer working.

Conference notes the 2016 workload survey report and the need to tackle workload intensification and excessive working hours.

Conference:

  1. welcomes the updated branch bargaining guidance in UCUBAN/HE7 as the basis for practical support to branches campaigning and negotiating on workloads
  2. believes that UCU should develop effective workplace organisation backed by central support to reduce workload intensification and its detrimental impact on members
  3. recognises that the statutory rights and functions of trade union safety representatives are crucial in local and national workload collective bargaining.

Conference resolves to:

  1. launch a UK wide campaign to secure agreements with the employers to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments, to identify and control risks associated with unreasonable working hours and workload intensification
  2. provide central support for local campaigns and negotiations for improved workload agreements
  3. seek increases in the number of trade union safety representatives throughout the sector.

Conference also urges HESA to introduce an annual sector wide survey of all University staff, to include the HSE Management Standards Indicator questionnaire, and that HEIs be required to collect data on work-related stress absences as part of their HESA return.  By collectivising the issue UCU can highlight poor practices, support members, and tackle the underlying causes of work-related stress.

CARRIED


HE25  Mental health - Goldsmiths, University of London

Conference notes:

The rising pressure on staff and students' mental health due to increased debt, casualisation and workloads (that include, for staff, pastoral care of students in distress).

Conference believes:

Mental health is a growing and urgent concern for both staff and students and that UCU must address the roots of the problem and campaign for high quality mental health care provision on campuses

Conference instructs:

  1. the HEC to lobby UCEA to instruct employers to conduct an audit of mental health services available for staff and students in higher education institutions and to draw up terms and conditions that explicitly recognise mental health as a workplace issue
  2. to campaign for a commitment that institutions should review mental health services and devote an agreed proportion of revenue to in-house mental health services that are tailored to higher education.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE25A.1  Anti-Casualisation Committee

Add to end of first paragraph: 

'This pressure exacerbates already existing recognised mental health conditions. It is difficult for those staff to disclose or to ask for reasonable adjustments for fear of losing work. The pressure is compounded by increasingly stressful and punitive performance management.'

Add in bullet 1., between 'mental health services' and 'available': 'and reasonable adjustments'

Add new bullet 2.: 'That the audit reviews the particular mental health and contractual problems faced by precarious workers and draws up guidelines for services and reasonable adjustments for both casualised staff and students.'

(Renumber old bullet 2. to bullet 3.)

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes:

The rising pressure on staff and students' mental health due to increased debt, casualisation and workloads (that include, for staff, pastoral care of students in distress). This pressure exacerbates already existing recognised mental health conditions. It is difficult for those staff to disclose or to ask for reasonable adjustments for fear of losing work. The pressure is compounded by increasingly stressful and punitive performance management.

Conference believes:

Mental health is a growing and urgent concern for both staff and students and that UCU must address the roots of the problem and campaign for high quality mental health care provision on campuses

Conference instructs:

  1. the HEC to lobby UCEA to instruct employers to conduct an audit of mental health services available mental health services for staff and students in higher education institutions and to draw up terms and conditions that explicitly recognise mental health as a workplace issue
  2. that the audit reviews the particular mental health and contractual problems faced by precarious workers and draws up guidelines for services and reasonable adjustments for both casualised staff and students
  3. to campaign for a commitment that institutions should review mental health services and devote an agreed proportion of revenue to in-house mental health services that are tailored to higher education.

New paragraph, Quality, effectiveness and professional standards


HE26  The Stern Review of REF: Tackling the Negative Consequences - University of Warwick

Conference notes:

  1. the Stern Review recommends making REF outputs non-portable
  2. it recommends removing the 'Special Circumstances' element that, previously, levelled the playing-field for early-career academics and those who had taken extended leave.

Conference believes:

  1. publishing academics should retain ownership of research output
  2. ending portability will harm career access, academic mobility and job security, especially for casualised and early-career academics, and those nearing retirement
  3. a better alternative would be to retain portability but expand the 'Environment' metric so institutions gained more credit for having supported outputs of academics who had left by the census date
  4. removing 'Special Circumstances' will increase inequality by disadvantaging early-career academics, parents, carers and those with health-related absences.

Conference resolves to:

  1. protect the intellectual ownership rights of academics
  2. defend portability of REF outputs
  3. resist the negative consequences of removing 'Special Circumstances'
  4. communicate the above to Universities UK.

i-iv taken in parts:
i CARRIED
ii REMITTED
iii CARRIED
Iv CARRIED

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE26A.1  Southern Regional HE Sector Committee

Add before 'Conference resolves to:' the sentence: 'Congress particularly commends paragraph 67 of the Stern review and asks that the prescribed minimum number of outputs from an individual be zero.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes:

  1. The Stern Review recommends making REF outputs non-portable
  2. it recommends removing the 'Special Circumstances' element that, previously, levelled the playing-field for early-career academics and those who had taken extended leave.

Conference believes:

  1. publishing academics should retain ownership of research output
  2. ending portability will harm career access, academic mobility and job security, especially for casualised and early-career academics, and those nearing retirement
  3. a better alternative would be to retain portability but expand the 'Environment' metric so institutions gained more credit for having supported outputs of academics who had left by the census date
  4. removing 'Special Circumstances' will increase inequality by disadvantaging early-career academics, parents, carers and those with health-related absences.

Conference resolves to:

  1. protect the intellectual ownership rights of academics
  2. resist the negative consequences of removing 'Special Circumstances'
  3. communicate the above to Universities UK.

HE27  Gender Equality and Teaching Observation and assessment Schemes - Women Members Standing Committee

Conference notes that the Lords backed an amendment to the higher education bill that says universities' performance in the teaching excellence framework should not be linked to the tuition fees they are allowed to charge. This is welcome news as the proposed obligatory TEF metrics use student evaluation to measure teaching quality. Students tend, as research shows, to be highly biased towards male lecturers, hence discriminatory attitudes against female lecturers pertain. Nonetheless in wider observation and assessment schemes female lecturers are still more likely to get low scores, especially from male students and therefore may be subject to less favourable outcomes which may include less promotion, pay or redundancy.

  1. HESC resolves to campaign for full gender proofing of all observation schemes including the TEF
  2. to ensure that issues of gender equality are fully addressed in the debate round all aspects of the Higher Education Bill. 

1 & 2 taken separately
1: REMITTED
2: CARRIED

CARRIED  AS AMENDED

Substantive motion

Conference notes that the Lords backed an amendment to the higher education bill that says universities' performance in the teaching excellence framework should not be linked to the tuition fees they are allowed to charge. This is welcome news as the proposed obligatory TEF metrics use student evaluation to measure teaching quality. Students tend, as research shows, to be highly biased towards male lecturers, hence discriminatory attitudes against female lecturers pertain. Nonetheless in wider observation and assessment schemes female lecturers are still more likely to get low scores, especially from male students and therefore may be subject to less favourable outcomes which may include less promotion, pay or redundancy.  

HESC resolves to ensure that issues of gender equality are fully addressed in the debate round all aspects of the Higher Education Bill. 


HE28  Academic Freedom - Northumbria University

Conference instructs the HEC to bring to Conference in 2018 a statement in defence of Academic Freedom as an addition to UCU Rules Section 2 'Aims and Objects'.

In this era of free reign hate speech engendered by Brexit and Trump, and the rise of consumerist education, this Conference supports the principles of academic freedom and the position:

  1. that HE academics, both inside and outside the classroom, must have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom
  2. that intrusive electronic monitoring e.g. Panopto lecture recording should always be optional not compulsory; and
  3. that academic institutions have no right to curb the exercise of this freedom by members of their staff, or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal.

WITHDRAWN

HE28A.1  Academic Related, Professional Staff Committee

Add to point 1 after 'academics' - 'and academic related professional staff'.

HE28A.2  Higher Education Committee

In the second paragraph, add 'Prevent' after 'Trump,'

Delete 'and' at end of point 2., and add new bullet point 3. :

'3. that the introduction of external speaker policies placing conditions upon academic freedoms of staff and students have no place in universities; and'

Renumber existing point 3. to 4.

HE28A.3  Open University

Add new points 4. and 5. as follows after point 3:

'4. that the principles of academic freedom apply to all staff who teach and/or carry out research in Higher Education Institutions, even if their institutions do not acknowledge that they are academics, and this includes those employed on casualised contracts;

5.   that academic freedom should also cover academic related staff when the nature of their work makes it applicable.'


New paragraph, Curriculum and education policy


HE29  Funding and widening access to higher education - UCU Scotland Executive Committee

Conference welcomes the appointment of a commissioner for fair access to higher education in Scotland. However, conference notes recent budget cuts to Scottish higher education and recent job losses in a quarter of Scotland's higher education institutions.  Conference notes that key to improving access are the staff that teach and support students and progress will only be made if staff are in place and able to support students.

Conference supports the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access but believes that widening access to higher education should be more ambitious.  Higher education is a benefit to the whole of society.

Conference calls on UCU to continue campaigning for the Scottish Government to appropriately fund all areas of education from pre-school, school, college, adult, community and workers' education and higher education so that the whole of society benefits from education at all levels, irrespective of ability or birth.

CARRIED


HE30  Teaching Excellence Framework - UCU Scotland Executive Committee

Conference is deeply concerned about the introduction of the TEF. Conference recognises the need to support high-quality teaching, but it is hard to see how the TEF will either measure or improve teaching quality. We are concerned about the use of flawed, proxy metrics as indicators of 'teaching quality', and the increased bureaucracy and game playing as a result of the TEF's implementation. Its introduction will significantly undermine the linkages between teaching, scholarship and research embedded within higher education.

Conference welcomes the two thirds of HEIs in Scotland that have not signed up to  TEF, and calls on the five HEIs that have to withdraw from the process, recognising that the sophisticated quality assurance systems currently in place across Scottish HEIs better suit the Scottish context than TEF.  This is particularly relevant in terms of the Scottish-four year degree, which differentiates Scotland from the rest of the UK.

CARRIED


HE31  (EP)  National Student Survey (NSS) as a Metric for Teaching Excellence - Black Members Standing Committee

Conference welcomes the leadership being shown by UCU and NUS in the campaign against the use of National Student Survey as a metric in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Conference notes that local engagement and support of branches is crucial in the success of the campaign.

Conference hereby resolves to launch a sustained campaign over the coming years for the removal of the NSS as a metric for TEF. In particular, Conference:

  1. calls on the UCU leadership to continue to work closely and develop a joint long-term campaign programme with the NUS
  2. requests that branches engage with their local Student Unions so that both the staff and student body are informed about the current flaws in NSS results, implications of the use of NSS in TEF, the rationale for the NSS boycott campaign and why success is critical.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE31A.1  LGBT Members Standing Committee

Add after second paragraph:

'Conference also notes that recent research has identified links between student bias and the results of exercises like the NSS, in that academics belonging to one or more protected groups tend to score lower in student feedback.'

Add further point to 'In particular, conference:'

'3. Calls on UCU leadership to keep branches informed of ongoing research on equality relating student bias to NSS results.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference welcomes the leadership being shown by UCU and NUS in the campaign against the use of National Student Survey as a metric in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Conference notes that local engagement and support of branches is crucial in the success of the campaign.

Conference also notes that recent research has identified links between student bias and the results of exercises like the NSS, in that academics belonging to one or more protected groups tend to score lower in student feedback.

Conference hereby resolves to launch a sustained campaign over the coming years for the removal of the NSS as a metric for TEF. In particular, conference:

  1. calls on the UCU leadership to continue to work closely and develop a joint long-term campaign programme with the NUS
  2. requests that branches engage with their local student unions so that both the staff and student body are informed about the current flaws in NSS results, implications of the use of NSS in TEF, the rationale for the NSS boycott campaign and why success is critical
  3. calls on UCU leadership to keep branches informed of ongoing research on equality relating student bias to NSS results.

HE32  Disabled members and the TEF - Disabled Members Standing Committee

Conference notes the progress of the HE bill through parliament and the 'Teaching Excellence Framework' metrics, replacing HEFCE, DfA, OFFA which will affect disabled workers disproportionately through micromanagement and increased student evaluations and feedback (which may be discriminatory). These metrics could lead to higher level of stress and an impact on mental health conditions and issues. The metrics may be used in disciplinary action or used as criteria for redundancy. Disabled members on casualised contracts will be even more insecure.

Conference resolves to:

  1. campaign against the TEF and brief branches on the implications for disabled members including those on casualised contracts
  2. organise a public meeting or demonstration in parliament coinciding with the passing of the act
  3. ensure disabled members' rights and issues are included in discussions with government and employers on the implementation of the TEF including reasonable adjustments and supportive policies on disclosing a disability.

CARRIED


HE33  (EP)  Campaign to protect Modern Foreign Languages in Higher Education - Northumbria University

Conference notes that the situation of MFL in HE is perilous, with a 57% drop in the number of undergraduates over 10 years, a dramatic fall in the number of institutions offering MFL degrees from 120 to 52, as well as in the range of languages offered. Post-1992 institutions have been particularly affected, bearing the brunt of these trends. MFL therefore risks becoming an increasingly elite subject. And yet the skills inherent in an MFL degree are more relevant now than ever, for graduate employability, business growth and the UK's future, as it increases its links across the world post-Brexit.

Conference instructs the HEC to support a broad-based campaign to save MFL in higher education:

  1. to raise awareness of the dire state of the subject through all available channels
  2. to commit HE institutions to safeguard and develop MFL.

CARRIED


HE34  LGBT+ Inclusive HE Curriculum - LGBT Members Standing Committee

Conference notes the importance of the curriculum in challenging stereotypes and broadening understanding of the world. Conference is concerned that, under pressures of marketisation, the HE curriculum, is increasingly concerned with 'employability', particularly in post-92 institutions. Conference believes that the curriculum is a powerful tool in raising awareness around equality issues.

Conference notes the good work of LGBT+ organisations and campaigns in advancing inclusive curriculum, noting School's Out work which has been used in teacher education. Equality needs to be more than tolerance and Universities getting plaudits for tick box exercises that many equality awards are.

Conference calls on UCU to:

  1. launch a survey about LGBT+ equality in the HE curriculum, including teacher education
  2. research work around LGBT inclusion in the curriculum to find examples of inclusive curriculum
  3. work with learners, including the national NUS to develop, advance and promote LGBT+ inclusive curricula for use in HE.

CARRIED


HE35  (EP)  Opposing quality exercises which are linked to increasing student fee - Birmingham City University

HE Sector Conference stands against the privatisation of higher education. We are calling for the abolition of the REF and any other teaching and/or research 'quality' exercises (TEF, NSS) that are or could be used in the future with the increase of the student fees.

CARRIED


HE36  (EP)  Graduate destinations as a Measure of Teaching Quality - University of Leeds

HESC notes:

The introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework will lead to student destinations being used as a measure of teaching quality.  The strongest factors associated with success in the graduate labour market are degree class and amount and quality of work experience.  Destinations statistics take no account of social, regional or biographical factors which might affect student outcomes. 

HESC believes:

Universities are here to educate students and to help in ensuring that we live in a civilised society, not to produce factory fodder for industry.  Whether someone obtains a job and whether that job is considered appropriate are not directly related to the quality of teaching.

HESC calls upon the HEC:

To continue to campaign against the use of graduate destinations as a measure of teaching quality.

CARRIED


HE37  Journal of Higher Education Union Studies -  West Midlands Regional HE Sector Committee

UCU has a diverse membership who have a vast experience of activism in many sectors of higher education. There are many examples of excellent practices within our union, however outside of Congress there are limited opportunities for disseminating good practice amongst members.

HE Sector Conference calls upon UCU to initiate an open-access, Creative Commons licenced journal of higher education trade union studies (as distinct from the Journal of Further and Higher Education) to provide a research focussed platform for sharing our union activities and associated research findings. This would provide the opportunity for UCU activists to gain recognition for their activities, and generate publication.

CARRIED


Local disputes, paragraph 11.1


HE38  (EP)  Londonmet censure and academic boycott - London Metropolitan University, City branch

Following the HEC meeting, 12th December 2016, concerning the Londonmet censure and academic boycott, pressure from the HEC to Londonmet's miscreant management sent soon after has not elicited an appropriate response. Management are not feeling the pressure of censure and academic boycott.

The abandoning of the AWAM at Londonmet threatens the national contract and the academic role. Our leading reps have been sacked. Moreover members at Londonmet are struggling with unmanageable workloads and dangerous levels of stress exacerbated by the imposition of performance management and appalling casualization of work. Our members - supported by a unanimous vote from the HEC - voted clearly for censure and academic boycott yet 7 months later, despite these attacks, it has still not been enacted.

We call upon:

  1. UCU to enact the censure and academic boycott immediately
  2. UCU to pressure Londonmet management to genuinely resolve our dispute through a major press campaign unless they start genuine negotiations on all issues in the dispute.

CARRIED BY ACCLAMATION


HE39  (EP)  MMU compulsory redundancies - University of Manchester

Conference notes that:

  1. MMU is threatening to make around 160 academics and many support staff redundant as it closes its Crewe campus over the next two years
  2. in a consultative e-ballot with a turnout of over 50%, 88% of UCU members at MMU voted in favour of holding a formal ballot on industrial action if any UCU member is threatened with compulsory redundancy
  3. MMU has, according to its 2015/16 Financial Statement, 'sustained robust financial performance over recent years', with total reserves of £378.9m, equivalent to 127% of its 2015/16 income of £298m, and an operating surplus of £28m equivalent to 9.5% of total income
  4. there is therefore no crisis to justify compulsory redundancies now or in the immediate future.

Conference calls on Manchester Metropolitan University to commit to no compulsory redundancies and to achieve this by working with the recognised trade unions.

CARRIED BY ACCLAMATION


New paragraph, Governance and workplace democracy


HE40  (EP)  Defending academic freedom and governance - University College London

Conference notes:

  1. UK universities have witnessed a growth of managerialism, reduction in academic board/senate membership and influence, and exclusion of staff from governing bodies
  2. these changes directly impact on the academic community as well as UCU's campaigning ability
  3. the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act, enacted in 2016, required Scottish university governing bodies to become more accountable to staff and students
  4. however the higher education and research bill/act is expected to:
    a.   deregulate the university sector
    b.   intensify competition with commercial 'new providers'
    c.   weaken protection for academic freedom, and
    d.   undermine academic governance.

Conference therefore resolves to build a national and local campaign for:

  1. implementing the Scottish governance reforms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and
  2. defending statutes, charters and contracts protecting academic freedom as a defining characteristic of a university, and extending them to all higher education institutions.

CARRIED


HE41  Use of consultants in HE - University of Reading

Conference notes a trend in university senior management to spend significant public funding on private sector consultancy firms, as evidenced by the £36m spend at Reading. These firms recommend the implementation of ready-made business solutions, inappropriate for the HE sector, which generate redundancies, de-skill the workforce and increase workload. Institutional expertise is ignored, devaluing the sector and demotivating staff. The HE sector should use its in-house expertise in order to achieve from its staff and arrive at recruitment, teaching, financial and other processes that buy-in are fit-for-purpose.

Conference calls on HEC to:

  1. investigate the increasing use of consultants in HE
  2. collect examples of recommendations that have already failed and been reversed
  3. investigate the additional stress caused to employees and the lowering of morale.

Conference further calls on HEC to:

  1. call on the National Audit Office and government to conduct value-for-money audits on consultancy spending across the HE sector.

Motion taken in parts.
Numbers 1-3 CARRIED
Bullet a. REMITTED

CARRIED AS AMENDED

HE41A.1  Academic Related, Professional Staff Committee

In second sentence after 'firms', insert:  'utilise statistically suspect benchmarking methodologies and'.

At the end of point 1. insert before the semi-colon:

-'for example: a) research which HEIs are using consultants eg. auditors, benchmarking and IT; b) Identify how much such institutions are spending on these consultancy services.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes a trend in university senior management to spend significant public funding on private sector consultancy firms, as evidenced by the £36m spend at Reading. These firms recommend the implementation of ready-made business solutions, inappropriate for the HE sector, which generate redundancies, de-skill the workforce and increase workload. Institutional expertise is ignored, devaluing the sector and demotivating staff. The HE sector should use its in-house expertise in order to achieve from its staff and arrive at recruitment, teaching, financial and other processes that buy-in are fit-for-purpose.

Conference calls on HEC to:

  1. investigate the increasing use of consultants in HE
  2. collect examples of recommendations that have already failed and been reversed
  3. investigate the additional stress caused to employees and the lowering of morale.

HE42  A UK strategy for student-staff alliance - Queen's University Belfast

In February 2017, Queen's University students came out in record numbers for a students' referendum which endorsed an exciting new partnership between the university's UCU and SU. Entitled 'Take Back Queen's', this collaboration centres on a 'Programme of Reforms', by which students and staff pledge to work together for a better university. The programme focuses on issues of democracy, working conditions, casualisation, equality and marketisation. It emerges from a year in which UCU-SU collaboration at Queen's has generated effective campaigns and tangible results—playing a major role in challenging cuts and highlighting exploitative and unequal practices.

A substantive and genuine staff-student partnership presents a formidable challenge to the systemic problems that we face across HE. HESC encourages branches to adopt the 'Take Back' platform, negotiating agreed campaigns that establish clear goals and core objectives that can galvanise students and staff.

CARRIED


New paragraph, Brexit and free movement


HE43  (EP)  Supporting staff affected by Brexit - Birmingham City University

Conference notes:

  1. the imminent enactment of Article 50, impacting on EU staff who are now considering leaving
  2. academic and professional service staff who applied for UK citizenship getting rejected
  3. staff are increasingly concerned about their right to stay in the UK.

Conference believes UK HE remains a diverse and multicultural staff community, a mirror of the world we educate.

Conference resolves to:

  1. develop support for HE staff who apply for residency or are rejected in being able to remain in the UK;
  2. develop a phone advice/support service for affected staff
  3. work with other unions and the NUS to ensure that students can study in the UK without having to pay full fees
  4. work with senior management in HE to ensure the wellbeing and equal treatment of EU and international staff and equal treatment in promotion/employment/recruitment etc
  5. support anyone affected by Brexit.

Bullets 1-3 taken in parts:
1 CARRIED
2. REMITTED
3. CARRIED

CARRIE
D AS AMENDED

HE43A.1  LGBT Members Standing Committee

Insert new point 4:

'4.  staff who are in relationships that have different legal recognition in the UK compared to outside the UK, such as same sex relationships, may be facing additional concerns in relation to their right to family life.'

Insert new point e:

'e.  raise awareness about differences in the legal recognition of relationships across borders, campaign for the broadening legal recognition for consenting relationships between adults, and promote existing work done by UCU in this area;'

Change existing e. to f.

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes:

  1. the imminent enactment of Article 50, impacting on EU staff who are now considering leaving
  2. staff are increasingly concerned about their right to stay in the UK
  3. staff who are in relationships that have different legal recognition in the UK compared to outside the UK, such as same sex relationships, may be facing additional concerns in relation to their right to family life.

Conference believes UK HE remains a diverse and multicultural staff community, a mirror of the world we educate.

Conference resolves to:

  1. develop support for HE staff who apply for residency or are rejected in being able to remain in the UK;
  2. develop a phone advice/support service for affected staff
  3. work with other unions and the NUS to ensure that students can study in the UK without having to pay full fees
  4. work with senior management in HE to ensure the wellbeing and equal treatment of EU and international staff and equal treatment in promotion/employment/recruitment, etc
  5. raise awareness about differences in the legal recognition of relationships across borders, campaign for the broadening legal recognition for consenting relationships between adults, and promote existing work done by UCU in this area;
  6. support anyone affected by Brexit.

New paragraph, Wider campaigns


HE44  Trump - Higher Education Committee

The election of Donald Trump has led to a massive series of protests across the world, not seen since the anti-war movement of 2003.

The planned Trump visit is leading to debate and discussion on university campuses.

HESC congratulate SOAS UCU members' joint students in marching out of university to join mass protests in London on 20 February.

HE sector conference calls on

  1. UCU branches to work with NUS and other campus unions to mobilise against the Trump visit.

CARRIED

Last updated: 22 August 2017