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Students support academic boycott

November 6, 2014

The following letter appears in The Independent (scroll to bottom of linked page)

Students support academic boycott

From today, academic staff at 69 UK higher education institutions are set to begin a marking boycott; the next step in ongoing industrial action by the University and College Union. The proposed changes to pensions that have led to this action will cost university staff thousands of pounds a year in lost benefits and create inequality between institutions.

Since 2009, average academic pay has fallen by 14.5 per cent, while vice-chancellor salaries increased by 5.1 per cent in the past year alone. The average gender pay gap in higher education is 17 per cent, and 53 per cent of universities employ staff on zero-hours contracts.

Students are angry that this boycott is happening. But our anger is aimed squarely at university managements and Universities UK, who oversee lucrative salary increases for vice-chancellors while leaving staff out in the cold.

Any draconian response from universities – such as the legally dubious threat of withdrawing the full salary for those partaking in a boycott – will be met with discontent from students and staff, who are united  on this issue.

Piers Telemacque
Vice President Society and Citizenship, NUS UK

Gordon Maloney
President, NUS Scotland

Malia Bouattia
National Black Students’ Officer, NUS UK

Shelly Asquith
President, SU Arts

Michael Segalov
Communications Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Areeb Ullah
Vice President Education (Arts & Sciences) Kings College London Students’ Union

Susuana Antubam
National Women’s Officer, NUS UK

Fran Cowling
NUS LGBT National Officer

Harriet Pugh
Education Officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Bruce Galliver
President, Bath Spa Students’ Union

Lyndsay Burtonshaw
Activities Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Yael Shafritz
President, University of Sheffield Students’ Union

Rosie Dammers
Wellbeing Officer, Manchester Students Union

Luke Jones
Group President, University of Wales Trinity Saint David Students’ Union

Joe O’Neill
Lancaster University Students’ Union, Vice President (Education)

Alice Phillips
Equality, Liberation & Access Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Tom Phipps
Student Living Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Alyx Murray-Jackman
Sport & Student Development Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Holly Staynor
Welfare Officer, Union of UEA Students

Alex Bradbrook
Undergraduate Academic Experience Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton
Co-President, Welfare & Diversity, Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Emma Peagam
President Education & Campaigns, Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Hannah Roberts
Education Officer, SUArts

Conor McGurran
Campaigns and Citizenship Officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Abraham Baldry
Presient, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Candic Armah
President, Brighton University Students’ Union

Howard Littler
President, Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Mostafa Rajaai
Culture and Diversity Officer, SUArts

Chris Jarvis
Union of UEA Students Campaigns and Democracy Officer

Rianna Gargiulo
Welfare Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Bethan Hunt
Education Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Dash Sekhar
Vice President Academic Affairs, Edinburgh University Students’ Association 

Malaka Mohammed
Education Officer, University of Sheffield Students’ Union

Sebastian Bruhn
Community & Welfare Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Dario Celaschi
NUS London Trans* Officer & NUS NEC

Rianne Gordon
University of Westminster Students’ Union Vice President of Harrow

Sorana Vieru
Postgraduate Officer (Education & Welfare), University of Bristol Students’ Union

Emma Cook, President
Leeds College of Art Students’ Union

Dan Goss
Environment & Ethics Officer, University of Warwick Students’ Union

Alasdair Clark
Vice President Education and Representation, Fife College Students’ Association

Hannah Sketchley
Democracy & Communications Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Georgie Robertson
SOAS Students’ Union Co-President Welfare & Campaigns

Sayed Alkadiri
NUS London Black Students Officer

Hajera Begum
Black and Minority Ethnic Students Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Omar Raii
External Affairs & Campaigns Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Saffron Rose
Vice President Education at Leeds Beckett University Students’ Union

Rob Henthorn
President for Education, Aberdeen University Students’ Association

Annie Tidbury
Women’s Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Marianna Ceccotti
Postgraduate Student’s Officer, UCL Students’ Union

David Suber
SOAS Students’ Union Co-President, Democracy & Education

Rachel O’Brien
Community Action Officer, University of Birmingham Guild of Students

Christopher Jarrold
Ethical and Environmental Officer, University of Birmingham Guild of Students

Tom King
LGBTQ Officer, SOAS Students’ Union

Dan Greenberg
Operations Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

Kabir Joshi
SOAS Students’ Union Co-President, Activities & Events

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Abraham permalink
    November 6, 2014 3:22 PM

    I’m not going to lie, I don’t know the ration of vice-chancellors to academic staff, but i’m pretty sure it’s extremely low. Implying that a 14% decrease in the salary of hundreds of staff is attributable to the 5% increase in a few administrators is narrow minded and/or ignorant. And what does gender pay gap have to do with pension schemes…? I might be more willing to consider the UCU’s version of how sustainable the scheme is if they hadn’t called the boycott before even offering a counter proposal in the ongoing negotiations.

  2. November 6, 2014 9:20 PM

    1.) The increase in managerial staff in Universities in the last ten years has significantly boosted the number of people employed by Universities who do not teach. The number of these on high salaries does have an impact on University finances.
    2.) The gender pay gap means women earn less than men doing the same job, and therefore get a lower pension. People being paid less than they should means less money than should is going into the pension pot to generate investment growth to the benefit of all.
    3.) The UCU has been engaged in talks about the future of pensions in the context of deficit calculation for two years, with no ground shifted. Having no mandate from a ballot prior to going into negotiations did members no service at all in 2011. The canny learn from history.

  3. November 7, 2014 10:57 AM

    You bring up some interesting points. I’d love to see some data on the ratio of management to teaching staff if you have any you can direct me to. Also do you have any info on how the gender pay gap breaks down within each discipline? I assume the salary is not equal for all disciplines and if women are more likely to voluntarily go into teaching positions with lower salaries then that would make a difference.

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