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UCU urges universities and minister to rule out using work of sacked staff in REF

6 February 2019

UCU has written to universities and the universities minister asking them to publicly reject plans from the UK funding bodies to allow institutions to submit the work of staff that had been made redundant.

The union said the controversial move, announced last week, had already provoked significant anger amongst the academic community and that universities who failed to rule out submitting sacked staff's work risked reputational damage and would face pressure from the union nationally and locally.

In its letter to universities minister Chris Skidmore, the union asks him to urge the funding bodies to reverse their decision and to join UCU in asking universities to rule out using sacked staff's work. Birkbeck, University of London has become the first institution to say it will only take credit for work produced by staff who left on good terms.

The union said the funding bodies' decision to remove a reference to a proposed ban on the submission of work by staff made redundant would be a green light for universities to treat staff like a disposable commodity and entrench the casualisation of early career researchers.

UCU head of policy, Matt Waddup, said: 'This move would compound the problems created by the highly exploitative, casualised employment model adopted by UK universities. Staff who already contend with a hire-and-fire culture in our universities would face the unedifying prospect of moving from one insecure, fixed-term contract to another while watching their former employers enjoying the fruits of their labour.

'We want to see universities and the minister standing up for staff in our universities and publicly stating their opposition to the plans. We have written to universities and will be publicising their responses. Institutions that refuse to follow Birkbeck's lead and rule it out can expect pressure from us both nationally and at a local level.'

Last updated: 6 February 2019