Statement of solidarity to London Met UCU

Resist the privatisation of HE – we pledge our solidarity to London Met UCU

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An abridged version of this letter appeared in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday 6 August 2016.

We the undersigned, commit ourselves to a campaign of solidarity and support for the UCU branch at London Metropolitan University (LMU), in their battle for the future of the university.

LMU Management are attempting to radically restructure the university, not on educational principles, but to run the most profitable courses as cheaply as possible. Students and staff are paying the price. Since its formation by merger of University of North London and London Guildhall University, London Metropolitan has been run into the ground, with student numbers cut from over 30,000, at its formation in 2002, to a projected 10,000, departments and courses slashed, serial rounds of job losses, and the campus reduced from three sites to one.

The fight at London Met is coming to a head in the summer of 2016. The timing is no accident.

The Higher Education and Research Bill in front of Parliament seeks to intensify competition in the Higher Education sector. It will permit private companies to enter the market for students and the tuition fee income they bring. This income is now uncapped by student numbers and (as one of the last acts of this Parliament) permitted to rise with inflation. Unlike a proper university, which is supposed to have a broad range of courses, these ‘alternative providers’ will be permitted to cherry-pick courses according to profitability.

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Protest at Higher Education Bill Second Reading, 19 July, 12 noon

The Government is rushing the HE Bill through to its Second Reading in the House of Commons. The Second Reading has been called for Tuesday 19 July.

parlt-lobbyThe NUS, UCU London Region and other organisations have called an emergency protest in Parliament Square at noon.

Emergency Protest against the HE Bill
Tuesday 19 July, Westminster
Assemble 12 Noon, Parliament Square (Westminster Tube)
Called by London Region UCU, NUS, FACE, NCAFC and others

More information, including lobbying your MP…

London Region Plan for 25, 26 May strikes

Wednesday 25 May
2526mayGENDER PAY EQUALITY DAY

Morning picket lines

1.30pm UCEA, Tavistock Square
End the Gender Pay Gap Now!
Protest at UCEA’s offices on Tavistock Square

March to UCEA:

paygapbanner
2.30pm Conway Hall, Red Lion Square
Strike rally and activists’ forum
Speakers include

  • John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor)
  • Shelly Asquith (NUS vice president)
  • Michael MacNeil (UCU)
  • Donna Merriman-Rowe (UNISON)
  • Rachel Cohen (City University UCU, UCU NEC elect)
  • Mark Campbell (London Region UCU HE)
  • Alex Kenny (NUT NEC)
  • Christina Paine (UCU Anti Casualisation Committee)
  • Frances O’Grady (TUC General Secretary, invited)

LMU rally 26 MayThursday 26 May
ANTI-CASUALISATION DAY

Morning picket lines

1pm London Met University, Tower building, Holloway Road

Zero tolerance for zero hour contracts
End all forms of casualisation

See also

Bursary Or Bust National Demo 4 June

Bursary Or Bust National Demonstration!
Saturday 4 June

ASSEMBLE: ST THOMAS’ HOSPITAL @ 1PM
Twitter #bursaryorbust @nhsbursarycuts
Facebook Group: nhsbursarycutsforum

#Bursaryorbust is a grassroots campaign set up by students to save the NHS bursary and oppose the imposition of tuition fees on health care students.

The NHS bursary gives means tested financial support to those studying to be nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. In the 2015 Autumn Statement, Georges Osborne announced plans to axe the NHS Bursary and replace it with a system of loans. We believe axing the NHS Bursary is unfair and unsafe.

Firstly, students work on placement for up to 50% of their courses. We believe that paying to work is wrong. Continue reading

Protest: Restore funding to ESOL: don’t scapegoat migrants

Outside Downing Street,
Whitehall SW1
Wednesday 27 January 2016, 6pm

Called by London Region UCU
Supported by Action for ESOL and Stop the War Coalition

UCU London Region, jointly with Stand Up to Racism, is calling an emergency demonstration on Wednesday 27th January at 6:00pm outside Downing Street.

Speakers include

  • Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President FE
  • Danielle Tiplady, student nurse fighting cuts to the student bursaries
  • Maz Saleem, Stop the War Coalition

Many colleagues will have been shocked and angered to hear Muslims scapegoated in a radio interview by David Cameron for not integrating into British society because they don’t speak English.

He announced £20m ‘extra’ funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) as part of a plan to ‘integrate’ Muslim women.

This is a scandal. There has been a furore in the press and I’m calling on you to join me next Wednesday at Downing Street to challenge this.

The sheer hypocrisy is staggering when people are desperate to learn English and are being turned away because of funding cuts by this and the last government he led.

ESOL funding has been cut by £160m since 2008. £45m was cut in the summer two weeks before the start of the new term, on top of the 24% cut to the Adult Skills Budget earlier last year.

It is frustrating to see the PM try to make political capital out of our students when we know the reality is that they are being denied the right to learn English. David Cameron did exactly the same thing in the summer when he spoke about how women needed English, and then went on to cut ESOL provision two days later.

Two thirds of ESOL students are women. They were the hardest hit by cuts and £20m will fall far short of what is necessary, especially when we consider that how many ESOL providers have lengthy waiting lists. At Lambeth College where I teach ESOL, the number of teachers has been cut from 65 to 31 in the last 18 months.

The language the PM used to single out Muslims is both inflammatory and islamophobic. It’s part of a racist narrative that says people don’t want to learn English and don’t want to integrate. It simply isn’t true. David Cameron suggests that if Muslim parents don’t speak English this could lead their children to become terrorists. It is dangerous to conflate these issues.

If the government are saying 850,000 people need English. Why only target a small proportion of Muslims? People of other faiths, or non, as well as men need to speak English too.

The government will implement plans in October for spousal migrants (and their children) to take a test after two and a half years to demonstrate English language improvement or face deportation.

His comments have caused widespread concern and criticism including from Baroness Warsi, John Prescott MP, Andy Burnham MP, Shabana Mahmood MP, Leader of the Lib Dems Tim Farron, Michael Rosen, Sally Hunt UCU General Secretary and more.

We should condemn these comments and call on David Cameron to restore ESOL funding and stop scapegoating Muslims.

We should promote the Action for ESOL Manifesto and hold meetings with local MPs and in our colleges and communities on it to restart a debate about what is required.

More urgently we have to unite to speak out and stop Islamophobia and scapegoating of Muslims in our schools, colleges and communities.

Join me on Wednesday.

What we want:

Mandy Brown
UCU London Regional (FE) Secretary
& Action for ESOL

* According to the Daily Mail, the PM’s proposal is that the women would be expected to have reached the A2 – elementary – level after two-and-a-half years, and B1 – intermediate – after five years.

Press

Public Meeting: Solidarity with the people of Greece

Drop the Debt – Let Greece breathe

Tuesday 24 March, 7pm

Called by London Region UCU & Greece Solidarity Campaign
Supported by UCL UCU

G03, Department of Geography
26 Bedford Way
University College London
WC1H 0AP

gksolidarity

Speakers include:

  • Marina Prentoulis, London Syriza and senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia.
  • John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington
  • Paul Mackney, Greece Solidarity Campaign, chair
  • Liz Lawrence, UCU president
  • Sean Vernell, UCU London Region