UCU

UEL strikes 22-23 February

University of East London UCU (University and College Union) held a 230-strong solidarity strike rally on Monday 22 February, the first day of a two day strike, with staff, students and other union activists speaking. The strike is over four compulsory redundancies, including the UCU branch chair (a clear example of victimisation). UCU is also fighting rising workload, drastically increased since September 2020, when 82 jobs were cut. Speakers talked about the effects of the cuts to date, in terms of insufficient services and overwork. Many called for national action by UCU over this and a...

University battles over job cuts

As rent strikes continue around the UK, other fronts of struggle in higher education are opening up. Leicester and Liverpool Universities have recently announced redundancies of academic staff. A strike planned for 8 February at Brighton University over cuts in the IT services was called off after management made some concessions but the fight continues. Action Short of Strike by UCU members at Goldsmiths continues with no sight of management backing down on long-threatened redundancies, despite no drop in student numbers. Many university managements are using the pandemic as an opportunity to...

Universities in lockdown

As Solidarity goes to press on 3 November, Lockdown 2 is about to begin (5 November) with universities subject to ambiguous government guidance. On the one hand they are expected to stay “open” (not that they ever closed, but instead put in enormous effort to deliver teaching online). On the other they are told “to consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible”. Some Vice-Chancellors took less than 24 hours to consider and announce that they would be sticking with their status quo of continuing in-person teaching — even where it is not required for the subject or...

Go online until it’s safe, protect jobs and bail out Higher Education!

By Workers' Liberty Higher Education workers For the first UK universities to open, the start of term has been the predictable shambles when it comes to so-called "Covid-security". St Andrews has asked its students to observe a "voluntary lockdown" for this weekend. Manchester Met has a cluster of cases on campus (now running at 127 and rising) which have been linked by local media to a party in halls. Some students have been confined to their flats. In large areas of northern England bans on household mixing mean they are not allowed to visit friends' or parents' homes. At Leeds, according to...

Universities return: fight for control!

The 2020-21 academic year is getting underway. Higher Education (HE) institutions that closed down and sent most of their students away in March, scrambling to move all teaching online, are preparing to welcome over two million people, mostly young, once more. Universities and colleges like many workplaces are allowed – expected – to reopen so long as they are “Covid-secure”. All insist that they are now that – for students, staff, and the surrounding community. They cannot afford to do otherwise! HE institutions are now basically businesses who must compete and make money to survive. They...

University staff rally against cuts

On 25 June, over 500 people attended an online rally jointly organised by branches of the University and College Union (UCU) at Imperial College, SOAS, Roehampton and Liverpool Universities in parallel with socially-distanced protests in Liverpool and London. Those institutions are facing some of the harshest cuts in the university sector. Management at Reading have threatened to sack the entire workforce and rehire only those prepared to accept inferior terms and conditions. Roehampton staff have been asked to take a voluntary pay cut, and a redundancy scheme is up and running. Their branch...

Organise against university cuts

Coronavirus is intensifying the fault lines in UK higher education, and huge cuts are coming to our universities. Universities are announcing job cuts and hiring freezes to mitigate the huge predicted loss of income from international students’ fees. Staff on casual, fixed-term or hourly paid contracts will be the hardest hit, and their workloads will be pushed onto permanent staff. Lots is still unclear. On Sunday 24 May, Student Strike Solidarity held a meeting to discuss how students can organise with university workers to stop these cuts. We heard from activists involved in local campaigns...

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