South Bank Uni strike vote expected this week! – no confidence in vice-chancellor as mass sackings announced

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South Bank University UCU members on the picket line during strike action over pay in February

Staff at London South Bank University have no confidence in the vice-chancellor and senior leadership team, the University and College Union (UCU) has announced, after 297 posts were threatened last week, including almost one in five (226 out of 1,082) academic staff.

A meeting will be held this week which is expected to authorise an immediate strike vote.
The cuts target senior academics with more than one in three professors and three in five associate professors set to lose their jobs as soon as Monday 8th July.
The university claims it needs to make the cuts because of a predicted £24m deficit due to a fall in international students, static domestic student recruitment and rising pension costs.
The proposals would also see the current eight academic schools abolished and merged into just three ‘colleges’ with all the respective dean, associate dean and heads of division posts axed.
Performing arts, film, sport & exercise science, psychology, electrical & electronic engineering, and social sciences would all face severe cuts.
Over 150 London South Bank University UCU members attended an emergency branch meeting last Wednesday and overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence in the vice-chancellor and senior management team.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The cuts that London South Bank University wants to force through would leave the institution a shell of its former self, you simply cannot slash this many jobs without completely hollowing out the university’s capacity to teach and support students.
‘Our members refuse to allow cuts of this magnitude to be forced through and have overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in the vice-chancellor and senior management team.
‘They meet again this week, and a strike ballot could be on the cards.
‘It is also extremely concerning that the university is clearly targeting senior staff. Getting rid of the most experienced academics is bad for students and would cause irreparable harm to London South Bank’s reputation. Management must now listen to staff and halt these devastating cuts.’
The UCU has also lodged a trade dispute with the University of Portsmouth over job cuts.
The dispute comes after the university put 163 academic staff at risk of redundancy on Tuesday 14 May with over 20 set to lose their jobs.
A further 434 academic related professional and support staff are also at risk and UCU estimates that up to 100 could go.
Staff are now being forced to reapply for their jobs at the same time as they are preparing students for year-end assessments and graduation.
The university claims it needs to make the cuts because of ‘recruitment challenges’ and increased costs.
The UCU has now completed a vote of no confidence in the vice-chancellor.
In a poll that closed last Tuesday, 61% of University of Portsmouth UCU members voted and an overwhelming 94% said they have no confidence in the vice-chancellor.
The union challenged the rationale for the redundancies due to the almost £329m University of Portsmouth has in the bank and its plans to spend £250m on buildings.
UCU has also launched a petition against the cuts.
UCU leader Grady said: ‘The University of Portsmouth is choosing to prioritise new buildings over the staff that support students and keep the university running.
‘It has rushed through a redundancy process to make unnecessary job cuts when the money is there to avoid sackings.
‘Now that staff have overwhelmingly shown they have no confidence in the vice-chancellor, the university must take stock and work with UCU to steady the ship and preserve the university’s status as a rich and thriving institution.’
Meanwhile, the Tory government’s Office for Students (OfS) has produced a report which claims that an increasing number of universities in England face ‘a material risk of closure’ unless they dramatically cut costs or merge over the next few years.
The report paints a bleak picture of universities’ overreliance on international students to plug the gaps left by the declining income from domestic student fees.
The OfS warns that 40% of England’s universities are expected to run budget deficits this year.
Susan Lapworth, the OfS chief executive, said: ‘Financial performance and strength vary significantly for different institutions and our analysis shows that an increasing number will need to make significant changes to their funding model in the near future to avoid facing a material risk of closure.
‘Many universities have already started this important work to secure their long-term sustainability.
‘They are taking difficult, but necessary, decisions about the shape and size of their institution.
‘They are working with others on mergers or centralised services.
‘And they are doing all of this while protecting the quality of their courses and the interests of their students,’ she ludicrously claimed.
Lapworth said the report was ‘a signal’ for universities to question their assumptions about future student recruitment at home and abroad, saying: ‘The numbers reported to us for the sector as a whole are just not credible.’
Figures compiled by the UCU show more than 50 universities and colleges are already making redundancies and other cuts.
UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The funding model for higher education is broken and needs radical change to put the sector on a firm financial footing.
‘Unfortunately, the Tories seem intent on making the situation worse through constant attacks on migrant students and workers.
‘The graduate visa route must now stay, the limits on graduate students’ family members coming to the UK should be reversed and the salary threshold needs to be lowered.
‘UCU has shown how an employer education levy could pay for a publicly funded higher education system instead of tuition fees.
‘This would mean that universities would no longer have to fight to hoover up domestic students.
‘We need all political parties to commit to a new funding settlement for higher education.
‘The alternative is institutions being hollowed out, geographic cold spots where courses are unavailable, and less opportunity for future generations – harming our society and economy.’

  • Commenting on teacher recruitment, training and retention in a report by the House of Commons Education Committee, published last Friday, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

‘As this report shows, the government has created a crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers which is having a significant detrimental impact on pupils’ learning.
‘In its utter failure to get a grip of teacher numbers, the government has only succeeded in distorting the quality of education available to young people. As this report shows, teachers are teaching outside of their specialist subjects and schools are dropping subjects entirely.   ‘Teacher recruitment has fallen sharply over the last few years. More teachers are leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement than at any other time on record. This is a catastrophe of the government’s own creation.
‘The education system is on its knees. Thanks to a debilitating lack of school funding, excessive workload and pay that has fallen way behind both earnings and the cost-of-living, many graduates have turned their backs on choosing teaching as a profession. The very same factors are driving those who enter it out.
‘Teacher shortages are system-wide and they need system-wide corrections on both pay and workload.
‘Piecemeal responses such as bursaries will never resolve these shortages on their own.
‘Increased child poverty and the decimation of mental health support services and special educational needs (SEND) provision has also impacted heavily on the workload of schools who have been left to pick up the pieces of a broken society.
‘The measures proposed by this report are insufficient and too piecemeal to meet the challenge of teacher recruitment and retention.
‘The next government must address this issue with the seriousness that is required. A complete review of the system needs to be undertaken to ensure every child gets the education they deserve.’