Debate for students between University and UCU representatives
At a meeting for students arranged by the Students’ Union yesterday, the UCU (represented by Mark Taylor-Batty) and the University (represented by Steve Scott) went head to head over the Economies Exercise in a debate for students. The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Staff and Students outlined the economic estimates that had led the University to conclude it was necessary to cut £35M and the UCU executive outlined how the University was borrowing £35M for buildings on top of the £360M already planned on such investment. Student-staff ratios, job cuts, the VCEG hotel retreat, the undeniable link between SSRs and the national student survey, how current students were being measurably affected by job cuts and how people being told there is no place for them in the University are being described as ‘voluntarily’ leaving its employ were all discussed.
One student present argued that the University could save at least £1M by curbing top salaries. Another described the extravagance of a leaving do she had witnessed (as a waitress) at the Vice-Chancellor’s Leeds residence. Another student, a former tax office worker, talked about how he would not be convinced by the University’s claims over its projected budgets, as statements were simply not adding up. One student, in response to Steve Scott’s claim that the University needed to borrow an extra £35M because buildings will be income-generating, asked what would be income-generating about a glass frontage on the Union building. The UCU will examine the claim that buildings such as this will generate greater income than the staff who must be sacked in order for the University to be able to afford the £35M loan.
The Vice-Chancellor’s dismissal of a UCU show of hands vote was also discussed, and it was pointed out that the vote in question was at a meeting with three times the population of Senate and with more elected staff representatives than Senate. Whether the VC would then dismiss a show of hands vote at Senate was offered as a rhetorical question.
LUU had also invited a UCU spokesperson from Tower Hamlets College. His branch had to resort to indefinite strike action when they were threatened with compulsory redundancies and severe job cuts earlier this year. They defended jobs and education, won an agreement with ACAS’s abitration to no compulsory redundancies and proved that the threatened job losses were unnecessary.