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In what context is a stranglehold ‘lifeline’ welcome?

October 25, 2010

The tone of the opening exchanges in today’s webcast with Michael Arthur were reconciliatory, as our VC attempted to put into context his ‘welcoming’ of the Browne report. Given that he stated on Channel 4 News, and in his own press release, that the Browne report represented a ‘lifeline’ to the University, many are left uncertain where the University management stand on the issue of cuts and the prospect of more than double student fees. Are they welcome, or not? Are they a lifeline, or not? UCU considers that supposed ‘lifeline’ to have a noose attached at the other end.

Michael Arthur Russell Group Browne Report University of Leeds

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In his webcast address, Michael Arthur, seems to support staff and student protests and demonstrations against the cuts:

Q: Do you understand though, that staff might want to go and protest and make a fuss and say, ‘we’re not going to lie down’?
MA: Yes, of course I would expect them to – I’d be rather disappointed if they didn’t. I’m expecting our staff – or some of our staff and our students – to make a fuss and I think it’s important that the Government sees that fuss.

This is remarkable to UCU, who have asked the VC to permit staff to make arrangements on 10 November to attend the national protest in London. A direct question on the issue was put to him in Senate. And yet we as yet have no clarification or straightforward answer on how he will facilitate the protests he here expects and welcomes. Some heads of School around the University, however, have made it clear that staff should feel able to attend these historic protests, alongside the hundreds of Leeds students already signed up to go to the London protest in two weeks time.

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