Universities

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...

University jobs at risk

The pandemic, and the fall-off in international student fees which will come as a consequence, has tipped an already unsustainable model of university expansion into crisis. It will speed up marketisation, and bring on cuts harder and faster than they would have come before. The government has brought forward some payments due to universities to avoid a cash-flow crisis, but as yet has refused to provide extra funding to fill what could be a £1.7bn gap. It is unlikely to want to see universities closed outright, especially in marginal constituencies. But some of the more vulnerable...

Slump after the slump?

57% of US university chiefs say they will be cutting jobs in the coming months. Many US universities are expected to shut down altogether. In Britain, councils say they will face an unpayable £5 billion debt as they move out of the lockdown. Some are already planning cuts, and some are threatening to declare themselves bankrupt. Workers in some elderly care homes have been told that their jobs may disappear as the lockdown eases, since the homes will have fewer old people to look after. In Britain already, one and a half million people have claimed Universal Credit. Those who have lost jobs...

Students launch rent strikes

Universities have been among the worst offending employers of the crisis so far. Sussex University has effectively sacked all staff on temporary contracts. King's College London, despite an easy "do what you can, don't worry" attitude to its academic staff, has sacked cleaner and UVW activist Percy Yunganina for missing a hearing that he didn’t attend due to government social distancing guidelines. Cleaners at the University of London have had their hours and therefore pay cut by half. Catering staff at the University of Essex have been laid off with no guarantee of pay, as have outsourced...

Students: after the strike, into the shutdown

The fourth week of the strikes by the UCU university staff union (9 to 13 March) saw twelve student occupations: UCL, University of the Arts London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Imperial, Manchester, Exeter, Brighton, Glasgow, Nottingham and the Royal College of Art. Sussex students blockaded multiple university car parks, Exeter students disrupted an open day, and Leeds students held a sit-in during a University Senate meeting, forcing it to be adjourned to a non-strike day. The Cambridge occupation expanded to take three floors of the Old Schools building, including the office of Chief...

Students ramp up support for UCU strikes

In the last week of the strikes by the university workers’ union UCU (9-13 March), students are escalating solidarity actions. By the end of Monday 9 March there were eleven universities in occupation: UCL, University of the Arts London (UAL), Cambridge, Royal College of Art (RCA), Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, Manchester, Brighton, Exeter, Imperial, and Liverpool. The occupations at Imperial and Liverpool have been organised by Extinction Rebellion Universities to demand universities decarbonise, decolonise and democratise, as well as standing in solidarity with the UCU strike. There...

Selina Todd and the Twitter storm

A social media storm broke out after a feminist conference in Oxford on 29 February asked Oxford University historian Selina Todd to hand over her two-minute opening address to a colleague, following threats by some speakers to boycott the event. Todd is associated with Women’s Place UK, which was set up to oppose progressive reform of laws on transgender rights. In a strange twist, WPUK types demanded the AWL immediately denounce the "disinvite". But none of us even knew about the event, let alone had involvement in it! And our position on such things is clear: we support trans rights, but...

UCU: taking the struggle forward

How to continue after Easter By a UCU activist As I write, negotiations with the employers are ongoing, and we’re told they’re “constructive”, but we have no further detail beyond that. Greater transparency in these negotiations is essential; rank-and-file members of the union need the right to scrutinise and assess what the employer is putting on the table, and collectively decide how to respond. Lively pickets are being organised in many places, but on the whole the pickets since 24 February seem smaller than the October-November 2019 strikes, and than the USS pension strikes in 2018. Some...

Students and the UCU strike

The second wave of (UCU) University and College Union strikes, taking place from 20 February, has been bigger and more active than the ones that took place before Christmas. Student activity has turned up a notch, with students from arts courses and the humanities in particular organising demonstrations of support. At my university (Brighton), before the strike began, there was an open meeting in which staff gave presentations on strikes and the history of collective action. Fascinatingly, the overwhelming majority of those present were women. Following the presentations, students discussed...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.