University of Bath UCU Rotating Header Image

Uncategorized

University Senate Approves Scholarships for Refugees

Following calls from staff and students, University of Bath Senate has approved proposals to offer financial and welfare support, including scholarships, to refugees and others who have been forced to migrate to the UK.

The scheme, agreed at a meeting of Senate yesterday, will initially include two scholarships for Postgraduate Taught students, covering tuition and living costs, and bursaries to cover some living costs for one Undergraduate student. These will be provided on an annual basis from 2017/18.

We welcome the scheme as a positive step and are proud to be part of an inclusive university community that recognises education as a human right and that takes action to bring that ideal to life.

There are currently some restrictions, such as the exclusion of asylum seekers and those with ‘Definite Leave to Remain’ from the Undergraduate bursaries. Relaxing these would help the scheme to reach those in greatest need of support.

We want to thank all of the members of University of Bath Students’ Union, UCU, UNISON and UNITE who have worked so hard over the past two years to make a refugee scholarship scheme at our university a reality. Without your support we would not have seen the progress we do today. We also thank the University Executive for recognising the strength of feeling across campus and for agreeing to work together with us on this issue.

This year, students and staff have donated over £7,500 to the #Uni4Refugees crowdfund. A decision will be made shortly on how best to use the donations to augment the additional funding arrangements agreed at Senate.

We look forward to welcoming our new students to campus and to working collaboratively to ensure the success and growth of this scheme.

In solidarity,

Alaa Al Khourdajie, University of Bath UCU
Christopher Roche, UNISON at University of Bath
Chloe Smidt-Nielsen, University of Bath Amnesty Society
Adam Kearns, University of Bath Students’ Union
Walter Guy, University of Bath UNITE

Bath UCU Update: Tue 7 March

1. Branch Meeting – Mon 13 March, 1.30pm
2. LGBTQ Rights: Call Me Kuchu – Tue 7 March, 6.30pm
3. International Women’s Day in Bath – Wed 8 March
4. Refugees Welcome – Over £2,000 Raised!
5. Pay Inequality – Report from University Court
6. Why are Students Boycotting the NSS?
7. Panopto: serious breaches of confidentiality
8. Go Green Week – Mon 6-Fri 10 March
9. HE Bill Defeat for Government in Lords
10. Union Democracy – Elections & Branch Committee
11. New LGBTQ Group for Staff & PGRs
12. Refugee Solidarity – Collection for Calais

1. Branch Meeting – Mon 13 March, 1.30pm

UCU holds an annual conference to take decisions, discuss education issues and set our priorities for the year. This year Congress will takeplace in Brighton, 26-29 May.

Our branch is entitled to send two delegates and can send one motion to Congress and two motions to the HE Sector Conference.

There has been a proposal, following the failure of our pay negotiations, that we submit a motion on UCU’s industrial strategy as one of our motions to HE Sector Conference.

Please try to attend a short branch meeting to discuss this on Monday 13th March 1.30 pm in 1E2.4.

If you want to suggest other items for this year’s Congress or to stand as a delegate, please contact ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk or bring ideas to the meeting.

2. LGBTQ Rights: Call Me Kuchu – Tue 7 March, 6.30pm

Join Amnesty society for a screening the award winning documentary ‘Call Me Kuchu‘. The film explores the struggles of the LGBTQ community in Uganda. Entrance is free and refreshments will be provided. In room 5 West 2.3. More details: Facebook.

3. International Women’s Day – Wed 8 March

4. Refugees Welcome – Over £2,000 Raised!

5. Pay Inequality – Report from University Court

After news of the VC’s recent £46,000 (11%) pay rise (versus 1.1% imposed on staff), staff and students held a lobby of University Court on Thursday 23rd February to demand action over the ever growing wage gap between the majority of staff and a small number of senior managers.

Inside the meeting, Court members listened carefully to a motion to express concern in the decisions, transparency and accountability of the University Remuneration Committee.

Court voted by 33-30 not to express its concern, but the vote was only carried with the support of members of the Remuneration Committee (including the Vice Chancellor) and staff whose pay is determined by the Committee.  Those voting to express concern included staff, students, emeritus professors and representatives of external bodies.

University Council is now expected to receive the matter and decide whether to take action to bring the Remuneration Committee back under its control, to include staff and student representation, and to accede to the demand that its decisions be more open, transparent and accountable.

6. Why are Students Boycotting the NSS?

We are backing Bath SU’s campaign to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS). This is a tactic designed to disrupt the government’s damaging Higher Education reforms.

All members are encouraged to:

  • Inform their students that the SU, NUS and UCU are asking them to boycott the NSS because the data will be used to increase tuition fees and further marketise Higher Education, with damaging consequences for students and staff.
  • Invite SU Officers to attend the beginning of your final year lectures to briefly talk to students about the boycott. Please email a list of available times and venues to sueducation@bath.ac.uk.
  • Print and display NSS boycott posters outside your office and elsewhere visible to students.

For more information, see the UCU website, Bath UCU blog, Bath SU NSS Boycott page and latest motion passed by Bath UCU branch. If you have any questions about the NSS boycott, please contact the Acting Branch Secretary.

7. Panopto: serious breaches of confidentiality

Members will be aware that Bath UCU has raised questions about the use of the Panopto lecture recording system. After two recent breaches of confidentiality, we must now ask whether it should be used at all.

First, last year a student turned up for a lecture which was cancelled. They remained in the lecture theatre and made a personal phone call. This phone call was recorded by Panopto and placed online. It was removed when the student discovered it had been made available, but there is a serious question about the integrity of the system.

Second, more recently a number academics were contacted and informed that a ceiling camera had been operating during their lectures when it should not have been. This camera picked up activity at the keyboard on the lectern and staff were warned that this could have made passwords and other sensitive information available online.

In the circumstances, we must ask if it is sensible to use Panopto while these issues remain unresolved.

8. Go Green Week – Mon 6-Fri 10 March

Message from our new branch Green/Environment Rep, Steve Alston:

“I’d like to introduce myself having recently taken on the role of Green/Environment rep for the Bath branch.

The role covers a range of potential activities, but all connected in some way to the idea of sustainability.  This includes campus-based issues but could also involve aspects of the curriculum or strengthening links with the local community to help promote the green agenda.

As a member of your branch committee I’ll be helping to highlight green initiatives and identify aspects of University policy that as a union we’ll seek to influence.  So please let me know if you have any issues you’d like to raise.

For the time being I’d like to alert you to the ‘Go Green’ activities happening on campus this week.  Please stop by if you’re able – more info at https://www.bathstudent.com/environment-and-sustainability/”

9. HE Bill Defeat for Government in Lords

The Higher Education and Research Bill has returned to full House of Lords debate at the ‘Report Stage’. Amidst intense criticism and lobbying by UCU, the NUS and others, on Monday the Lords inflicted a surprise defeat on the government, voting to break the proposed link between the TEF and tuition fees. There is now a real opportunity for us to influence events.

10. Union Democracy – Elections & Branch Committee

Sally Hunt has been re-elected as UCU general secretary, defeating Jo McNeill by a margin of 2,552 votes. Sally won 59% of the votes cast.

A number of branch committee positions are vacant.

  • Branch Secretary (3-6 hours/week)
  • Negotiation Committee Secretary (2-4 hours/week)
  • Recruitment Officer (1-3 hours/week)
  • Postgraduate Members Rep (30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • BME Members Rep (30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • Lecturers/Readers Rep (30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • Professorial Rep (30 mins-2 hours/week)

You may be eligible to paid release from your job for trade union duties and activities. If you would like to know more about any of these roles, please contact the Acting Branch Secretary.

11. New LGBTQ Group for Staff & PGRs

This new group has been launched by two LGBT staff members who want to create an inclusive and fun LGBT+ community for staff and postgrad researchers here at Bath. The group is open to all staff and postgraduate researchers at the University who identify as LGBT+, including people of any sexual orientation, gender or age. More info: go.bath.ac.uk/lgbt-group.

12. Refugee Solidarity – Collection for Calais

One of our members in SPS is collecting donations for Calais Refugee Solidarity Bristol. If you have items on the list below (click to enlarge), please contact F.M.Johnson@bath.ac.uk.

If you have any items for inclusion in the next Bath UCU Update, contact the Acting Branch Secretary.

Bath UCU Update: Tue 14th Feb

Image may contain: text

1. Pay Inequality – Lobby of Court (Thurs 23rd Feb)
2. #HE4Refugees
3. Support the NSS Boycott
4. Quotes of the Week:
5. Nominations for Committee Positions
6. UCU Elections 2017
7. Survey: Take Action on Racism
8. Other Upcoming Events:
– We Love Bath – Demo Against Cuts to Libraries, Arts & Social Care – Petition & Demo (TODAY)
– NHS in Crisis – You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til it’s Gone! (Thurs 16th Feb, 19:30)
– Educate, Agitate, Celebrate – Celebration of Migrants in the UK (Sat 18th Feb)
– One Day Without Us – Campaign to Support Immigrants in the UK (Mon, 20th Feb, 1 pm)

1) Pay Inequality – Lobby of Court (Thurs 23rd Feb)

After news of the VC’s recent £46,000 (11%) pay rise (versus 1.1% imposed on staff), staff and students have expressed anger and frustration at the ever growing wage gap. The branch has resolved to organise a lobby of University Court, calling for transparency over senior management pay and action to reduce overall pay inequality at the University. All colleagues are encouraged to join the lobby of Court on Thursday 23rd Feb, at 13:45 outside 8 West 2.1.

2) #HE4Refugees

The #HE4Refugees fundraiser is already over 25% of the way to £5,000!. The branch agreed at our AGM to match the first £500 donated by members, so if you haven’t already, please give generously. Your committee will be undertaking a number of challenges over the next few months, including the Bath Half Marathon, to raise for the fund. If you would like to do something in your department, anything from sponsored activities to cake sales, or would like other ideas of how to help, please email C.J.Roche@bath.ac.uk.

3) Support the NSS Boycott

Bath UCU is backing Bath SU’s campaign to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS). This is a tactic designed to disrupt the government’s damaging Higher Education reforms. After hearing from Ben Davies, Bath SU Education Officer, members at our last branch meeting voted without opposition to provide practical support.

Members are encouraged to:

  • Inform students that their SU, the NUS and UCU are asking them to boycott the NSS because the data will be used to increase tuition fees and further marketise Higher Education, with damaging consequences for students and staff.
  • Invite SU Officers to attend the beginning of your final year lectures to briefly talk to students about the boycott. Please email a list of available dates, times and venues to sueducation@bath.ac.uk.
  • Print and display NSS boycott posters outside your office and elsewhere visible to students.

For more information, see the UCU website, Bath UCU blog, Bath SU NSS Boycott page and latest motion passed by Bath UCU branch. If you have any questions about the NSS boycott, please contact the Acting Branch Secretary.

4) Quotes of the Week:

“The scandals with for-profit companies in US higher education, like Trump University, must surely serve as a warning to our government.” UCU Comment on privatisation of UK Higher Education

“This is a government that has already moved the goalposts on loan repayment to sting graduates with higher charges, so you can forgive our scepticism when the minister says people with student debts have nothing to fear.” Sally Hunt on Government plans to privatise the student loan book

5) Nominations for Committee Positions

A number of branch committee positions remain unfilled.

  • Branch Secretary (~3-6 hours/week)
  • Negotiation Committee Secretary (~2-4 hours/week)
  • Recruitment Officer (~1-3 hours/week)
  • BME Members Rep (~30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • Lecturers/Readers Rep (~30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • Professorial Rep (~30 mins-2 hours/week)

It is important that these positions are filled for the continuing health of our growing branch. You may be eligible to paid release from your job for trade union duties and activities. If you would like to know more about any of these roles, please contact the Acting Branch Secretary.

6) UCU Elections 2017

Ballots to elect UCU trustees, the general secretary, vice-president from the higher education sector,  honorary treasurer and NEC members are open from 1st February to 1st March 2017. Your branch President, Michael Carley, is standing for election to the NEC in both the Geographically-elected (South) HE and UK-elected HE ballots. Your branch committee fully supports his candidacy. You should receive your ballot paper by Thursday 9th February. For more information, see the UCU website. Please make sure you use your vote.

7) Survey: Take Action on Racism

Have you or one of your colleagues or friends experienced racism at work? The TUC has launched an  online survey to expose the everyday reality of racism in the workplace. Racism can take many forms, from facing racial harassment to being denied access to promotion or training.

Please act now, encourage your colleagues and friends to complete the survey by Monday 27 February.

8) Other Upcoming Events:

  • We Love Bath – Demo Against Cuts to Libraries, Arts & Social Care – Petition & Demo (TODAY)

Save Bath Libraries leaflet

Local residents are resisting plans by B&NES Council to slash social care funding by £6 million over 3 years, close Bath Central Library, build a Park and Ride on Bathampton Meadows and cut funding to the arts. Please join the demo outside the Council vote in Bath Guildhall on Tuesday 14th February at 5 pm. Facebook event. You can also sign and share the library petition to B&NES Council.

  • NHS in Crisis – You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til it’s Gone! (Thurs 16th Feb, 19:30)
Dr Youssef El-Gingihy, GP and author of ‘How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps’, is speaking at the Friends Meeting House in York Street. Facebook event here.
  • Educate, Agitate, Celebrate – Celebration of Migrants in the UK (Sat 18th Feb)
 Join Bath Trades Union Council to mark their 125th anniversary with a celebration of the contribution of migrant workers to the UK labour movement.
Free and open to all – an afternoon of film, talks, food, drinks and live music. Book your free ticket through Eventbrite today!
Against a backdrop of rising rascism and xenophobia in the UK and overseas, now is the perfect time to celebrate and rediscover what can be achieved when people of all backgrounds stand together, united.
  • One Day Without Us – Campaign to Support Immigrants in the UK (Mon, 20th Feb, 1 pm)

Gather on campus (outside the library) or in town (outside Primark) at 1pm to coincide with similar gatherings across the country. We’ll then be part of  a Twitter/social media storm created when hundreds (thousands?) of photos of gatherings and messages of support are posted online.

More information: http://www.1daywithoutus.org/The University event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/604117253131911/

The town event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/244971152607157/

Bath UCU Update: Thurs 9rd Feb 2017

1. Support the NSS Boycott
2. Heart Unions: The Big Workplace Meeting (Thurs 9th Feb 12:30)
3. Pay Inequality – Lobby of Court (Thurs 23rd Feb)
4. #HE4Refugees
5. Urgent: Nominations for Committee Positions
6. UCU Day of Action against Workplace Racism
7. Vice President Elected to University Council
8. Minutes of Branch Meeting (Wed 1st Feb)
9. UCU Elections 2017
10. Mental Health – Time to Talk
11. Other Upcoming Events:
– NHS in Crisis (Thurs, 9th Feb, 19:30) (Thurs, 16th Feb, 19:30)
– Save Bath’s Libraries – Petition & Demo (Tue 14th Feb)
– Educate, Agitate, Celebrate – A Celebration of Migrants in the UK (Sat 18th Feb)
– One Day Without Us – Campaign to Support Immigrants in the UK (Mon, 20th Feb, 1 pm)

1) Support the NSS Boycott

Bath UCU has voted to support Bath SU’s campaign to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS). This is a tactic designed to disrupt the government’s damaging Higher Education reforms. After hearing from Ben Davies, Bath SU Education Officer, members at our last branch meeting voted without opposition to provide practical support.

Members are encouraged to:

  • Inform students that their SU, the NUS and UCU are asking them to boycott the NSS because the data will be used to increase tuition fees and further marketise Higher Education, with damaging consequences for students and staff.
  • Invite SU Officers to attend the beginning of your final year lectures to briefly talk to students about the boycott. Please email a list of available dates, times and venues to sueducation@bath.ac.uk.
  • Print and display NSS boycott posters outside your office and elsewhere visible to students.

For more information, see the UCU website, Bath UCU blog, Bath SU NSS Boycott page and latest motion passed by Bath UCU branch. If you have any questions about the NSS boycott, please contact the Acting Branch Secretary.

2) Heart Unions: The Big Workplace Meeting (Thurs, 7th Feb, 12:30)

As part of Heart Unions week, we are co-hosting the Big Workplace Meeting, featuring TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and DJ and broadcaster Amy Lamé – talking about great stories from across the trade union movement.

Join us to watch this short session together at 12:30 in 3 East 3.5!

All staff welcome. If you can’t join us, you can watch online here.

3) Pay Inequality – Lobby of Court (Thurs 23rd Feb)

After news of the VC’s recent £46,000 (11%) pay rise (versus 1.1% imposed on staff), staff and students have expressed anger and frustration at the ever growing wage gap. The branch has resolved to organise a lobby of University Court, calling for transparency over senior management pay and action to reduce overall pay inequality at the University. All colleagues are encouraged to join the lobby of Court on Thursday 23rd Feb, at 13:45 outside 8 West 2.1.

4) #HE4Refugees

Bath UCU and the Students’ Union Amnesty International Society have launched a joint fundraiser to open Higher Education to refugees. The branch agreed at our AGM to match the first £500 donated by members, so please give generously. Your committee will be undertaking a number of challenges over the next few months, including the Bath Half Marathon, to raise for the fund. If you would like to do something in your department, anything from sponsored activities to cake sales, or would like other ideas of how to help, please email C.J.Roche@bath.ac.uk.

5) Urgent: Nominations for Committee Positions

A number of branch committee positions remain unfilled.

  • Branch Secretary (~3-6 hours/week)
  • Negotiation Committee Secretary (~2-4 hours/week)
  • Recruitment Officer (~1-3 hours/week)
  • BME Members Rep (~30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • International Members Rep (~30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • Lecturers/Readers Rep (~30 mins-2 hours/week)
  • Professorial Rep (~30 mins-2 hours/week)

It is important that these positions are filled for the continuing health of our growing branch. You may be eligible to paid release from your job for trade union duties and activities. If you would like to know more about any of these roles, please contact the Acting Branch Secretary.

6) UCU Day of Action against Workplace Racism

UCU Day of Action Against Workplace Racism

UCU Day of Action Against Workplace Racism

Our theme this year is ‘This is what racism looks like‘. Members are encouraged to watch the UCU documentary, ‘Witness’, chronicling the lived experiences of UCU black members.

There are vacancies on the Branch Committee for a BME Members Rep and International Members Rep. Please contact the Acting Branch Secretary for more information.

7) Vice President Elected to University Council

Branch Vice President, Christopher Roche, has been elected to to the governing body of the University by staff in the MSA, T&E and OFS Job Families. Christopher said “I am grateful to my colleagues for putting their faith in me to represent their interests on Council. I ran promising to prioritise workloads, fair pay and improved democratic representation for staff at the University and want to be held to account. I will be regularly meeting with Reps from all three employer-recognised trade unions and holding a monthly drop-in session for all non-Education & Research staff on the first Wednesday of each month, from 10:15-11:05 in 1 East 2.1.”

8) Minutes of Branch Meeting (Wed 1st Feb)

The branch met to debate our support for the Students’ Union’s NSS boycott, discuss the worsening pay inequality at the University in the wake of the Vice Chancellor’s recent 11% pay rise and receive an update on local claims for gender pay equality and anti-casualisation. Full minutes available here.

9) UCU Elections 2017

Ballots to elect UCU trustees, the general secretary, vice-president from the higher education sector,  honorary treasurer and NEC members are open from 1st February to 1st March 2017. Your branch President, Michael Carley, is standing for election to the NEC in both the Geographically-elected (South) HE and UK-elected HE ballots. Your branch committee fully supports his candidacy. You should receive your ballot paper by Thursday 9th February. For more information, see the UCU website. Please make sure you use your vote.

10) Mental Health – Time to Talk

Members from all three campus trade unions (UCU, Unison and Unite) took part in the ‘Time to Talk Cafe‘ on Thursday 2nd February. This was the first in a series of events on campus planned for this year to challenge the stigma around mental health. Dr Kim Luetchford, UCU Department Rep in Chemical Engineering,  said “It was good to open conversations about mental health at the university and to hear more about the resources available to staff and students who need support. However, the university must acknowledge the effects of workplace stress on mental health and do more to minimise its causes, such as increased workloads and job insecurity.” If you would like to be involved in future work on improving staff mental health at the University, please contact Christopher Roche.

11) Other Upcoming Events:

  • NHS in Crisis – You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til it’s Gone! (Thurs 16th Feb, 19:30)
Dr Youssef El-Gingihy, GP and author of ‘How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps’, is speaking at the Friends Meeting House in York Street. Facebook event here.
  • Save Bath’s Libraries – Petition & Demo (Tue 14th Feb)

Save Bath Libraries leafletLocal residents are resisting plans by B&NES Council to close Bath Central Library and move a severely reduced service to the ‘One Stop Shop’ in Manvers Street. Please sign and share the petition to B&NES Council and join the demo outside the Council vote in Bath Guildhall on Tuesday 14th February at 5 pm.

  • Educate, Agitate, Celebrate – Celebration of Migrants in the UK (Sat 18th Feb)
Join Bath Trades Union Council to mark their 125th anniversary with a celebration of the contribution of migrant workers to the UK labour movement.
Free and open to all – an afternoon of film, talks, food, drinks and live music. Book your free ticket through Eventbrite today!
Against a backdrop of rising rascism and xenophobia in the UK and overseas, now is the perfect time to celebrate and rediscover what can be achieved when people of all backgrounds stand together, united.
  • One Day Without Us – Campaign to Support Immigrants in the UK (Mon, 20th Feb, 1 pm)

Gather on campus (outside the library) or in town (outside Primark) at 1pm to coincide with similar gatherings across the country. We’ll then be part of  a Twitter/social media storm created when hundreds (thousands?) of photos of gatherings and messages of support are posted online.

More information: http://www.1daywithoutus.org/The University event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/604117253131911/

The town event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/244971152607157/

Branch Update: Fri 20th Jan 2017

  1. Save Bath Community Academy (Sat 21st Jan, 12:00)
  2. #HE4Refugees
  3. Orgreave Truth & Justice (Wed 25th Jan, 19:30)
  4. Branch Meeting (Wed 1st Feb, 13:15)
  5. Mental Health – Time to Talk (Thurs 2nd Feb, 10:15)
  6. Save Bath Library – Petition

1) Save Bath Community Academy (Sat 21st Jan, 12:00)

 Parents, children and our friends in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are calling for our support to stop the closure of Bath Community Academy. A protest is being held outside Ben Howlett MP’s office tomorrow. Location: 26 Charles Street. More info: Protestival Bath. Background: Bath Chronicle.

 2) #HE4Refugees

Bath UCU and the Students’ Union Amnesty International Society have launched a joint fundraiser to open Higher Education to refugees. The branch agreed at our AGM to match the first £500 donated by members, so please give generously. Your committee will be undertaking a number of challenges over the next few months, including the Bath Half Marathon, to raise for the fund. If you would like to do something in your department, anything from sponsored activities to cake sales, or would like other ideas of how to help, please email C.J.Roche@bath.ac.uk.

3) Orgreave Truth & Justice (Wed 25th Jan, 19:30)

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign is determined to get justice for miners who were victims of police lies and cover ups at Orgreave in June 1984. Barbara Jackson, Secretary for the campaign, will be talking to us about the history of the campaign, why they need a public enquiry and what we can do to help. This will be followed by a screening of ‘The Battle of Orgreave’. Organised by Bath Trades Union Council. Free tickets available now.

4) Branch Meeting (Wed 1st Feb, 13:15)

  • Pay inequality at Bath – After news of the VC’s recent 11% pay rise (versus 1.1% imposed on staff), members will be asked to approve a letter to University Council urging action to reduce the growing wage gap.
  • NSS/TEF news – We will also receive an update on the Students’ Union’s policy to implement a boycott of the NSS, as a tactic to disrupt the government’s damaging Higher Education reforms.

Full agenda to follow.

5) Mental Health – Time to Talk (Thurs, 2nd Feb)

The University HS&E Service are organising a number of events this year to challenge stigma around mental health. The first of these is a ‘Time to Talk Cafe’ on Thursday 2nd February. Details of the event here. Trade union representatives have been involved in the planning of this initiative and we encourage members to volunteer to help for half an hour on the day. If you are interested and would like to hear more, please reply to this message or contact Marcia Martin (M.A.Martin@bath.ac.uk, ext 4088).

6) Save Bath Library – Petition

Members joined hundreds of other local residents last Saturday to protest plans to close Bath Central Library and move a severely cut-back service to the ‘One Stop Shop’ in Manvers Street. If you weren’t able to make it, please sign and share the petition to B&NES Council.

“A Source of Embarrassment” – Pay Inequality at Bath

In October, the University received national press attention during the week of our 50th Anniversary celebrations, but for all the wrong reasons, as half a dozen newspapers ran stories focused entirely on the pay and expenses of the Vice Chancellor.

Last week, the spotlight intensified, with national news outlets and television and radio programmes reporting that the Vice Chancellor has taken another large pay rise, of £45,000 – an 11% uplift, ten times the 1.1% pay offer imposed on other staff. Times Higher Education believe that this makes Professor Breakwell the highest paid Vice Chancellor in the country, with a salary and benefits in excess of £450,000 per year, not including her other “part-time” jobs, which bring in some £60,000 per year.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, has branded the “fat cat” salary an “insult” to staff and said “I am sure the students at Bath, who are struggling with record levels of debt and increasing tuition fees, will want to know exactly what Mrs Breakwell is doing to justify being paid so much more than the Prime Minister.”

The patience of B&NES Council Members is wearing thin. Joe Rayment, Councillor for Twerton, has now written to the Vice Chancellor in an open letter published in the Bath Chronicle. He says that “continually using the University of Bath as a means by which to engorge your already considerable wealth…demeans the university and it embarrasses our city…you are bringing the University of Bath into disrepute and it is time for you to resign with whatever respect you still have among the academic and Bath communities.”

On campus, the students have now passed policy through the Students’ Union in favour of limiting executive pay to five times that of the lowest paid members of staff, and have voted overwhelmingly (92% in favour) for a motion of no confidence in the Remuneration Committee, which sets senior management pay. The motion states that “the VC’s pay and expenses have become a national news story and a source of embarrassment, detrimental to the reputation of the university as a whole.” It adds: “Our tuition fees would be better spent on learning resources and on ensuring that our lecturers and other staff are treated fairly, than on the VC’s excessive pay and expenses.”

Bath UCU, alongside Unison and Unite, has repeatedly called for transparency, accountability and restraint in university senior management pay, particularly as our members and other colleagues see their own pay and conditions deteriorate. Unfortunately, these calls have fallen on deaf ears. The failure of the University’s governing body to act has now resulted in the issue becoming one of national significance, and embarrassment.

In December, our branch AGM passed a motion stating that “in order to restore confidence, the remuneration committee must include democratically elected staff and student representatives and should be required to publish proper minutes and a list of Key Performance Indicators used to justify executive salaries.” We also have an existing union policy that calls for a maximum 10:1 pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid members of staff.

Your branch Committee is calling a general meeting to give all members an opportunity to discuss these issues, and to formulate a position and plan of action. This meeting will be held on Wednesday 1st February at 13:15, venue TBC. All members are encouraged to attend and contribute.

If you know of colleagues who care about pay inequality and would like to attend, but who are not yet members of the union, please encourage them to join UCU in advance of the meeting.

Regards,

Christopher Roche, on behalf of University of Bath UCU Committee

Bath UCU AGM 2016 Policy Motions

Members voted on four policy motions at our quorate AGM on Wednesday 14th December. The motions, detailed below, covered a range of topics: Welcoming Refugees to Bath, boycotts of the NSS and TEF, the loss of confidence in the Remuneration Committee over VC Pay, and affiliation to ‘Bath for Europe’. All motions were discussed and passed.

Motion 1: International students & Refugee Scholarships [Passed]

Bath SU has recently adopted a policy of support for international students in the form of scholarships for refugees who wish to study at Bath. Bath UCU expresses its full support for the SU policy. The policy includes an action for “SU Officers on University Senate submit a proposal and request a vote that ‘refugees are welcomed to the university through provision of scholarships'”. The branch will encourage members of UCU sitting on Senate to support this motion. The policy also references plans by students and staff to launch a crowdfund with the aim of opening up access to Higher Education for refugees. The branch encourages all members to contribute to the fund and will match the first £500 of contributions from members.

Motion 2: Boycott of the TEF and NSS [Passed]

In agreement with national UCU policy on supporting NUS opposition to the TEF and NSS, the local association offers its full support to Bath SU in its policy of joining twenty other students’ unions in supporting a boycott of NSS and the TEF. These measures are detrimental to higher education and staff and students are united in opposition to them. We encourage UCU members to support Bath SU in practical measures to end TEF and NSS and to take part in national action in support of these aims.

Motion 3: Fair Pay & University Remuneration Committee [Passed]

The local association notes the policy position taken by the University of Bath SU on transparency and fairness in staff and senior management pay, in particular the policy of rejecting use of Zero Hours Contracts, limiting executive pay to five times that of the lowest paid member of staff and the expression of no confidence in the remuneration committee. Staff have also lost confidence in the committee. We offer our full support to the SU in working towards the objective of transparent and fair pay for university staff and senior managers. In order to restore confidence, the remuneration committee must include democratically elected staff and student representatives and should be required to publish proper minutes and a list of Key Performance Indicators used to justify executive salaries.

Motion 4: Bath for Europe [Passed]

Bath UCU still believes that some form of membership of EU institutions is crucial for higher education and the success of Universities such as Bath. It therefore agrees to become an associate member of Bath for Europe (BfE) which is affiliated to Britain for Europe: a federation of local groups campaigning for the UK to remain in, or close to EU membership. The link with BfE will entitle UCU representatives to attend BfE events and propose its specific concerns for inclusion in BfE campaigns. In return, Bath UCU will keep its members informed of news, developments and events led by BfE. https://bathforeurope.com

USS pensions: more cuts coming ?

The USS pension scheme is the main scheme for academic and academic related staff in pre-1992 universities.  Three of its 10 directors are appointed by UCU.   UCU opposed the closure of the final salary scheme earlier this year.   We did secure some important changes to the scheme to protect members from the worst effects of the closure of the final salary scheme, but it has now ended.

The closure of the final salary scheme was the result of warnings to the USS Board that the scheme faced a huge deficit.   UCU challenged the way the scheme’s assets were valued and members supported strike action to defend the benefits that would be cut for future scheme members.  University of Sheffield UCU have produced a useful account of the events that led up to the end of the final salary scheme.

Now the scheme’s assets are set to be valued again, (for one of the more accessible descriptions of the issues at stake in the valuation process see this post from Mike Otsuka of LSE UCU)  and it is possible – perhaps even likely – that another huge deficit will be discovered and members will have to take further cuts to their benefits and/or increases to contributions.

University of Bath VC Glynis Breakwell has ruled herself out of any discussions with the local branch about USS because she is a paid member of the USS Board.  We have therefore set out to the University’s Director of HR the points we want the University to consider in any representations it makes on the future of the scheme.

For those with the appetite, USS have released a video stream of the meeting of institutions, including Bath University, held on December 1st.

We will keep you informed of any proposals that come forward.

United for Education Demo #Nov19

No to Fees, No to Cuts, No to Debt

The National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU) are holding a mass demonstration in defence of free, accessible and quality further and higher education and to demand an end to privatisation and cuts in universities and colleges. Staff, students and supporters from across the education sector and trade union movement will march in London on Saturday 19th November, in what promises to be a huge show of opposition to government policy on post-school education.

University of Bath Students’ Union are running coaches for students, staff and supporters. Bath UCU are proud to be providing financial support.

Join the Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/708038252677972/

Reserve your coach ticket today (£5 return):

Events before the demonstration:

  • Demo Information Session – Thursday 10th November, 18:15 in 8 West 2.5.
    Hosted by University of Bath Students’ Union.
  • Education in Crisis Tour – Thursday 17th November, 18:15 in TBC.
    Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/579719922236019/
    Open to all students & staff.
    ‘The agenda of this government is clear – they want an education system where our institutions operate in the interests of profit and business. But there are thousands of students, staff and education activists up and down the country who reject this vision. We want a system which is free, democratic and accessible to all, which values education as a social good. Come along to what will be a truly informative event, discuss the state of Further & Higher Education, and plan for the future. With speakers from Bath UCU, Bath Students’ Union and the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts.’

Report: Event on Syria, Calais & Refugee Solidarity

Last Tuesday, Bath UCU co-hosted a film screening of “The White Helmets” (Trailer) with the Bath SU Amnesty International Society.

Alaa opens the session

Alaa opens the session

The session was opened by Alaa Al Khourdajie, a Postgraduate UCU member and UCU Contact in the Department of Economics, who spoke about some of the actions we can take in response to the ‘refugee crisis’ and introduced two speakers:

  • Bernie Howley, Founder and Chair of Bath Welcomes Refugees, outlined the work that the group are doing to help settle and support refugees in Bath;
  • Christopher Roche, Bath UCU Vice President, spoke about a recent trip to deliver donations to and work in the refugee camp in Calais, the urgent need to allow refugees into the UK ahead of the impending razing of the camp by the French government and asked for people to support the “Phone Credit for Refugees Project“.
Chris talks about a recent trip to the refugee camp in Calais

Chris talks about a recent trip to the refugee camp in Calais

Alaa introduced the film, which tells the story of “The White Helmets“, volunteer rescue workers in Syria, responding to military attacks in civilian areas. The film is available now to watch online through Netflix.

Students and staff keen to understand and take action on the 'refugee crisis'

Students and staff keen to understand and take action on the ‘refugee crisis’

The sessions was very well attended, and the staff and students present donated over £200 in cash, plus more online and by phone, to three organisations:

If you were unable to attend the event, please take a look at the links above and consider making a donation.

The Bath UCU branch will continue to campaign for the rights of refugees, and all migrants in the UK. We continue to support calls for the creation of university scholarships for refugees and are making plans for future deliveries of donations and volunteer to workers to Calais and elsewhere. If you would like to become more involved in these initiatives, please email ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk.