On 4 May 2020, a brutal assault on Higher Education began when the University of Roehampton announced aggressive proposals to cut jobs with the launch of a severance scheme and — significantly — a proposal to cut pay for academics and professional staff from 1st August. Subsequently there has been a further attack on our working conditions with the announcement of increases in academic workloads and the suspension of research sabbaticals. This has occurred whilst staff are continuing to deliver high quality teaching and exceptional research, as well as rapidly develop new programmes to help increase university income during the pandemic. To date, details of the university’s plan for socially distanced teaching have not been clarified, but additional labour will certainly be required to adapt our programmes. In the given context, it is clear that any cuts would be unsustainable, unfair, and would have a damaging impact on the quality of teaching and research in the university, as well as on staff health and student satisfaction.
We already know that universities are capitalising on the good will of staff, their dedication to students, and their willingness to work well beyond contracted hours, which makes these moves to undermine collective solidarity, security, and support particularly egregious. We also know that the most vulnerable among us are now facing a double attack arising from the pandemic, as well as the marketisation of tertiary education: temporary and casualised workers, migrants, disabled, women and BAME staff and students will be the most affected by cuts. Meanwhile, the highest salaries and the proportion of senior management continues to balloon, undeniably problematic in the context of dwindling resources.
The marketisation of HE continues to play a significant role in the situation that universities now find themselves. Post-92 universities like Roehampton represent a key dimension of this increasingly challenging marketplace, particularly as the government seems to pursue ideological shifts driven by ill-informed notions of vocational skill and inappropriate assessments of ‘value for money’. These moves would amplify inequalities for staff and students, including those arising from the widening stratification of teaching and research.
LATEST – UCU calls for an international comprehensive academic boycott of London Metropolitan University
Sign the pledge
How you can support the boycott
Members are asked to support the academic boycott in any way that they can. This may include not doing the following at London Met:
- applying for any advertised jobs
- speaking at or organising academic or other conferences
- giving guest lectures
- accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers
- writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by the institution in question
- accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses
- collaborating on new research projects.
NB: UCU members employed by LMU itself must not participate in the academic boycott in order to protect their contractual position.
Please note that the above advice will not ordinarily preclude members from supporting the boycott with regard to such things as refusing to apply for, or accept an external examiner’s contract, choosing not to provide a visiting lecture at LMU, choosing a research partner and so on since these are generally matters of individual academic autonomy. Members in any doubt about their contractual position should seek the union’s advice before acting.
For the avoidance of doubt, where any of the above activities forms part of your existing contractual duties or where you are otherwise unsure about this you should only refrain from doing them after your head of department (or line manager) has given you prior permission to do so. UCU is not asking or encouraging academics to act in breach of their contracts of employment.
If you have any queries please contact Matt Waddup at firstname.lastname@example.org
What you can do to support London Met UCU
Even if you do not currently engage in any of these activities, we ask you to make a public commitment to boycott in advance, and ask your colleagues to do likewise.
Further, we ask you to write to London Met’s Vice Chancellor and Chair of Governors to pledge your support for our campaign:-
Finally, we ask you to do your utmost to publicise the boycott and the issues at stake.
Letter – Resist the privatisation of HE – we pledge our solidarity to London Met UCU
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.