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In the news: 27 May 2016

External examiners resigning as fight for fair pay steps up

More than 1,000 academics have already resigned from their roles as external examiners in universities across the UK, with thousands more expected to join them in coming weeks, reports the Guardian today.

In an escalation of this week's industrial action over pay, 50 professors have signed a letter to the paper voicing their opposition to what they see as the "unfairness of the current pay policies of our universities and their impact on staff and their students."

Urging others to follow their lead, they conclude that "We love our work as external examiners not least because it brings us into contact with academics from around the country. The high-quality work we see confirms to us that staff deserve better from institution heads.

"We have therefore resigned from our external examiner posts and will not be taking up new posts in order to demonstrate that there will be no 'business as usual' until we have a commitment from our universities to fair pay in higher education."

More information for external examiners is available here.


Higher education strikes

Members in universities across the UK walked out on Wednesday and Thursday this week in a dispute over pay. They also began working to contract from Wednesday.

Strong picket lines across the country and rallies taking place in major cities ensured decent media coverage across the board, some of which you can find here.

The BBC said that other unions may now join the campaign for fair pay in higher education, while the Mail warned that action targeting graduation ceremonies and open days would follow in the summer if the employers did not improve their offer.

Fair pay was very much the theme of the day with UCU's #fairpayinHE Twitter hashtag trending worldwide at lunchtime on Wednesday. Photos and reports from the two days, including a surprising number of animals on picket lines, were collected on the union's live action page.

There were also some candid accounts of what life is like for staff and why they were striking that helped bring the message across brilliantly, such as this one in the Guardian.


Calls for Cornwall College boss to take pay cut as staff face more job losses

UCU has called on Cornwall College Group principal Amarjit Basi to take a pay cut as staff at the beleaguered institution face yet another round of redundancies with 60 jobs on the line. The principal received a total salary package of £229,000 in 2014/15, up from £210,000 the previous year - a 9 per cent rise.

UCU regional official, Philippa Davey, told FE Week: "Our proposal is that the principal considers a pay cut. It was one of several put forward by the union in response to yet another new round of redundancies at the college. This latest announcement that up to 60 staff are at risk comes on top of three rounds of redundancies in the past 12 months. There have been ongoing redundancies for the past seven years."

Last updated: 16 March 2021