UCU

Wave of student action

Students are protesting in occupations and rallies on campus around UK universities, finally able to employ in-person direct action after a year of mostly online organising. Rallies have been organised at the London School of Economics (LSE), Goldsmiths and SOAS in London, and the rent strike campaigns have launched a wave of occupations in Manchester, Nottingham, and two Sheffield universities. On Wednesday 28 April, 300 people rallied at LSE in central London. The lively crowd heard speeches from the fee and rent strikes going on at the university, as well as from the SOAS fee strike...

Universities ballot for strikes on course cuts

Multiple branches of the further and higher education union UCU are heading for industrial action after successful ballots. Prison educators working for private firm Novus across forty-nine prisons and young offenders’ institutions were due to take their first day of strike action on 26 April, with two more to follow on 11 and 12 May. That dispute is over health and safety. Staff at London’s United Colleges Group have voted to strike over increased workloads. UCU branches at Leicester and Liverpool have held successful ballots over redundancies, which at Leicester appear to be targeting union...

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...

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