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Message of support from Sally Hunt

From Sally Hunt to UCU Hope Branch on 28 January 2011

Dear Member,  

I’ve just been informed of the decision by your management to cut the staffing budget by 15 percent as a result of the CSR and Browne review – this on same day that we are fighting to keep the budget for EMAs for 16 to 18 year olds. What strikes me is that when people talk about percentages, about budgets and the need to cut, they forget some things. First – education makes money for this country, it promotes employability, it encourages social cohesion, it is one of our greatest global assets, particularly in higher education. They also forget what we in the trade union movement know all too well. Every statistic, every financial model which talks about deficit reduction or balancing the books means something brutal and personal. It is an individual, their job, their self esteem, their future. We know this because they are us. We know then where we stand. We have a battle. I can’t promise you the world but I can promise you resourcing and support. Every job matters. Every course does too. Martin is already turning the phones red hot to alert us all. We as a national union will stand with you. Best place to be I think. Sally

18/02/11 – Student visa restrictions are a knee-jerk and dangerous policy

From UCU website 18 February 2011

UCU said today new student visa measures would have a real impact on UK universities’ ability to compete effectively on the global stage and risked sending a dangerous message to the rest of the world that the UK was ‘closed for business’

The union was responding a report released today from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) analysing the government’s plans to reduce the number of student visas awarded to people outside the EU.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘We share the concerns that the report makes about the data the Home Office has based the proposals on. If the proposals are implemented they will have a real impact on our ability to compete effectively on the global stage. We cannot afford to be sending out the message that we are closed for business.
 
‘UK higher education is already suffering from enormous cuts, the last thing we need is knee-jerk populist policies that will deny our universities billions of pounds. International students are a vital part of the campus community, adding cultural knowledge and links that better equip our graduates to work in a globalised economy.’ 

UCU said today new student visa measures would have a real impact on UK universities’ ability to compete effectively on the global stage and risked sending a dangerous message to the rest of the world that the UK was ‘closed for business’

The union was responding a report released today from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) analysing the government’s plans to reduce the number of student visas awarded to people outside the EU.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘We share the concerns that the report makes about the data the Home Office has based the proposals on. If the proposals are implemented they will have a real impact on our ability to compete effectively on the global stage. We cannot afford to be sending out the message that we are closed for business.
 
‘UK higher education is already suffering from enormous cuts, the last thing we need is knee-jerk populist policies that will deny our universities billions of pounds. International students are a vital part of the campus community, adding cultural knowledge and links that better equip our graduates to work in a globalised economy.’

09/02/11 – University access agreements to deprive institutions of funds

From UCU website 9 February 2011

Ahead of tomorrow’s expected announcement of how university access agreements will work, UCU has warned that every single English institution with undergraduates will have to charge more than £6,000 fees just to plug the funding gap created by huge cuts to teaching budgets.

The average fee will need to be £6,863.
 
When pushing hard to persuade Liberal Democrat MPs to break their pre-election pledge to vote against any rise in fees, coalition ministers made much of the fact that any institution wishing to charge more than £6,000 a year would need to agree an ‘access agreement’ with the university access regulator OFFA. The government said that any institution that breaches or fails to deliver its access agreement would face a fine of up to £500,000.
 
However, analysis by UCU highlights how the entire landscape of higher education will change under the new system. Shifting the burden of paying for a university education from the state to the student will not generate the extra funds universities say they need, nor will it provide an enhanced experience for the individual student.
 
The union said that if the access agreements are vigorously enforced then some universities will end up with less money than they have now or face fines if they charge higher fees in an attempt to break even. If, however, they are not enforced then there will be accusations that the agreements were merely a sop to Liberal Democrat MPs looking for an excuse to break their pre-election promise not to vote for higher fees.
 
Earlier this week a leaked document from Cambridge University confirmed that it would charge the maximum £9,000 a year. The sector is now waiting to see what other institutions will charge and which universities will be the first to show their hand.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Government claims that universities will only charge more than £6,000 a year in exceptional circumstances are completely bogus when one scratches at the surface of the plans. By slashing the teaching grant and making students foot the bill we will see whole subject areas starved of public funds and possibly forced to close.
 
‘We are not alone in expressing concerns that some universities will charge the full fee simply because they won’t want their courses to be seen as inferior because they cost less. We are entering unchartered territory for universities, students and families and are now starting to see just what a terrible move tripling fees and creating a market in degrees was. It will be interesting to see if the access agreements have any teeth or were merely a sop to Liberal Democrat MPs desperately looking for an excuse to cling to as they broke their pre-election promise to vote against any increase in fees.’

26/01/11 – Manchester protests over education and job cuts

From UCU website 26 January 2011

Following on from November’s march that saw 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters protesting against higher tuition fees and cuts in teaching and support in universities and colleges, the National Union of Students (NUS) and UCU have joined forces with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to move the focus from London to the north-west, where the cuts could hit hardest.

A march and rally called ‘A Future That Works: A National Rally for Young People’ will see the three organisations calling their members to Manchester on Saturday 29 January to highlight the impact the Conservative-led government’s cuts will have on young people, particularly those in the north-west.

The plans by the government to decimate welfare and hike the cost of education have seen the biggest wave of street protests since Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party was in government and the organisers are asking those in the north-west to join them to show that anger at the government’s agenda extends well beyond London.

Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary, said: ‘This government seems intent on abolishing routes into education for all but the wealthiest. Last week’s scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, coupled with the huge rise in tuition fees, is going to deny thousands of young people the chance to better themselves. It is not fair that they are being forced to pay the price for a financial crisis they did not create.’

Aaron Porter, NUS President, said: ‘Last year we saw 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters on the streets of London in opposition to the coalition’s plans to treble tuition fees and slash teaching budgets. In abolishing the education maintenance allowance, raising tuition fees, axing AimHigher and scrapping the Future Jobs Fund, the coalition has disgracefully targeted young people out for the most severe cuts.’

22/01/11 – Staff at Liverpool Hope University in strike ballot amid job cuts and ‘secret’ payments row

From Liverpool Echo 22 January 2011

STAFF at a city university are considering strike action amid plans to slash 100 jobs and “secret” payments to senior employees.

The potential walk-out at Liverpool Hope University comes days after the ECHO revealed how one in 10 staff are set to be made redundant as it attempts to slash annual costs by £6m.

Redundancies will hit across the board, affecting the university’s 300 academic staff, as well as administrative staff at its Childwall and Everton campuses.

And confirming staff are to be balloted in the coming weeks for industrial action – including a potential strike – the University and College Union (UCU) said Hope should “wait until its financial future becomes clearer before axing staff”.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “The university does not know what is happening to teacher education, it does not know what grant money it is going to receive and it does not know, or is not telling us, what level of fee it will charge from 2012. You just cannot operate like this.”

And Unison, which combined with UCU and accounts for the majority of the staff in the firing line, condemned “secret” £5,000 payments made to nine senior staff at the university.

The union said the situation had left staff “feeling confidence in their employer has gone”.

Today, the university defended the payments which it said rectified the fact “some heads of academic departments were earning less than their colleagues on the same grade who did not have their responsibilities”.

A spokesman added: “This allowance only applies for the period they are a head of department; it is not out of step with practice across the sector and is not a bonus of any kind.

“The university has to apply seriously the principle of equal pay for equal work, and it was applied to only those heads in this anomalous situation.”

It said its proposed restructuring was “essential to ensure the university enhances its strong position as it faces the challenges of a market in higher education”.

“The UCU, in December, stated the Government’s funding plans for higher education put one in three universities at risk, and Liverpool Hope University has no intention of being in the group isolated as at ‘high risk’.”

A spokesman added that government indications on future higher education funding, rises in VAT, pension contributions and general inflation, meant “enough is known about the financial situation to enable consultation to begin on the university’s proposals for restructuring and making the necessary efficiency savings.”

Consultation on the redundancies, set to be made by September, is ongoing.

21/01/11 – Union says industrial action still likely over pension cuts

From UCU website 21 January 2011

UCU said today that the board of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) needed to properly consider the results of the union’s consultation on changes to the USS pension scheme.

UCU today warned higher education employers that industrial action was still likely over the planned changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
 
Responding to the decisions made at yesterday’s USS board meeting, the union said the board’s suggestion of modifications to two strands of the employers’ proposals had not gone far enough.
 
In a ballot of over 31,000 USS members conducted by UCU, 96% said they did not support the employers’ radical changes to the scheme. In contrast, the USS official consultation received just 5,000 responses from USS members and the board has not released what they said.
 
The board’s modifications are to reconsider the length of time members who leave the scheme have to rejoin to be able to keep their final salary scheme and to look again at plans for the level of caps on inflation proofing.
 
UCU said it was keen to hear exactly what the modifications to the proposals would be, but warned that, whilst USS members would welcome concessions, it did not sound as if the board had gone far enough to prevent industrial action and widespread disruption across the higher education sector.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Our members not only voted against the proposed changes to USS, but they also told us why they opposed the employers’ plans. We are pleased that the USS board has taken some of that on board and we look forward to seeing the modifications to the proposals.
 
‘USS is still following the employers’ line and is proposing to scrap the final salary scheme and make it cheaper for employers to sack people on the grounds of redundancy. This has got a lot to do with saving the employers money and not enough to do with ensuring the long-term sustainability of the scheme.
 
‘We need to be clear that these concessions have only come about because of the pressure from UCU and USS members. It must be disappointing for the employers that six times as many USS members responded to the UCU consultation they tried to block than to their own official one.
 
‘While we welcome the concessions, much more will need to be done if we are to avoid strike action and widespread disruption in our universities.’ 

UCU said today that the board of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) needed to properly consider the results of the union’s consultation on changes to the USS pension scheme.

UCU today warned higher education employers that industrial action was still likely over the planned changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
 
Responding to the decisions made at yesterday’s USS board meeting, the union said the board’s suggestion of modifications to two strands of the employers’ proposals had not gone far enough.
 
In a ballot of over 31,000 USS members conducted by UCU, 96% said they did not support the employers’ radical changes to the scheme. In contrast, the USS official consultation received just 5,000 responses from USS members and the board has not released what they said.
 
The board’s modifications are to reconsider the length of time members who leave the scheme have to rejoin to be able to keep their final salary scheme and to look again at plans for the level of caps on inflation proofing.
 
UCU said it was keen to hear exactly what the modifications to the proposals would be, but warned that, whilst USS members would welcome concessions, it did not sound as if the board had gone far enough to prevent industrial action and widespread disruption across the higher education sector.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Our members not only voted against the proposed changes to USS, but they also told us why they opposed the employers’ plans. We are pleased that the USS board has taken some of that on board and we look forward to seeing the modifications to the proposals.
 
‘USS is still following the employers’ line and is proposing to scrap the final salary scheme and make it cheaper for employers to sack people on the grounds of redundancy. This has got a lot to do with saving the employers money and not enough to do with ensuring the long-term sustainability of the scheme.
 
‘We need to be clear that these concessions have only come about because of the pressure from UCU and USS members. It must be disappointing for the employers that six times as many USS members responded to the UCU consultation they tried to block than to their own official one.
 
‘While we welcome the concessions, much more will need to be done if we are to avoid strike action and widespread disruption in our universities.’

21/01/11 – Strike action at Liverpool Hope University in jobs row

From UCU website 21 January 2011

Staff at Liverpool Hope University today refused to rule out strike action following confirmation that over 100 jobs are set to be lost at the institution, and at least 60 will be academic posts.

UCU has accused the university of making ill-informed decisions. The union says the institution must wait until its financial future becomes clearer before axing staff. At an emergency union meeting yesterday UCU members at Liverpool Hope University launched a campaign to save jobs and called for a ballot for industrial action.
 
Liverpool Hope University has a good reputation for its teacher training courses and UCU believes that the institution’s management has reacted excessively to government ideas on its future. In a November white paper, the education secretary, Michael Gove, set out his plans to shift teacher training away from universities and focus it in schools.
 
The union says the university cannot axe jobs when it does not yet know what its teaching grant will be, what its quota of training places from the Training and Development Agency (TDA) will be, what the outcome of the government’s proposals on the future of teaching training will be, or what level of tuition fee it will charge from 2012.
 
UCU is one of many critics of Michael Gove’s plans. Responding to the white paper, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester and chair of the universities’ umbrella group’s Teacher Education Advisory Group said: ‘Research and inspection evidence is unequivocal: the best teacher education happens when universities and schools co-operate as full partners in the design, development and delivery of teacher education for the development of excellent teachers.’
 
UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: ‘The university does not know what is happening to teacher education, it does not know what grant money it is going to receive and it does not know, or is not telling us, what level of fee it will charge from 2012. You just cannot operate like this.
 
‘Making sweeping cuts to the university will not be easy to undo and the worst thing any institution can do right now is to make ill-informed decisions with serious short and long-term implications. Strike action is always a last resort but we have seen very little from the university management so far that gives us the confidence that the proposals have been properly thought through.’ 

Staff at Liverpool Hope University today refused to rule out strike action following confirmation that over 100 jobs are set to be lost at the institution, and at least 60 will be academic posts.

UCU has accused the university of making ill-informed decisions. The union says the institution must wait until its financial future becomes clearer before axing staff. At an emergency union meeting yesterday UCU members at Liverpool Hope University launched a campaign to save jobs and called for a ballot for industrial action.
 
Liverpool Hope University has a good reputation for its teacher training courses and UCU believes that the institution’s management has reacted excessively to government ideas on its future. In a November white paper, the education secretary, Michael Gove, set out his plans to shift teacher training away from universities and focus it in schools.
 
The union says the university cannot axe jobs when it does not yet know what its teaching grant will be, what its quota of training places from the Training and Development Agency (TDA) will be, what the outcome of the government’s proposals on the future of teaching training will be, or what level of tuition fee it will charge from 2012.
 
UCU is one of many critics of Michael Gove’s plans. Responding to the white paper, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester and chair of the universities’ umbrella group’s Teacher Education Advisory Group said: ‘Research and inspection evidence is unequivocal: the best teacher education happens when universities and schools co-operate as full partners in the design, development and delivery of teacher education for the development of excellent teachers.’
 
UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: ‘The university does not know what is happening to teacher education, it does not know what grant money it is going to receive and it does not know, or is not telling us, what level of fee it will charge from 2012. You just cannot operate like this.
 
‘Making sweeping cuts to the university will not be easy to undo and the worst thing any institution can do right now is to make ill-informed decisions with serious short and long-term implications. Strike action is always a last resort but we have seen very little from the university management so far that gives us the confidence that the proposals have been properly thought through.’