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Open Letter to UEA VC re closure of counselling courses

UCU National Secretary Sally Hunt has written to Prof David Richardson, UEA Vice-Chancellor to express concern over the announced closure of counselling course at UEA.  She notes that the proposals would damage the education of existing students and significantly impact provision of counselling teaching in the region at a time when there is growing recognition of the need for more investment in mental health provision and education.

 

Letter to Prof D Richardson UEA

HE BILL SNEAKING THROUGH

With the snap election just called, you might have thought that the current government’s Higher Education and Universities Bill was going to be delayed, but it looks as though they’re going to try to push it through next week before Parliament is prorogued. On 6 March the House of Lords voted for amendments to two of the most controversial features of the Government’s HE Bill: (1) the intention to link TEF to the ability to raise tuition fees, and (2) allowing new private providers degree-awarding powers without four years of validation by a university or approval by a quality assurance body. This was a rare instance of good news for our sector, and was the result of intense lobbying: from UCU, but also from concerned academics, students, parents, and others worried by the ramifications of these ill-conceived proposals.

 

With the final reading of the Bill looming, we cannot let up on the campaign now: the Lords were receptive to individuals raising their concerns, and when it returns to the House of Commons, we need to put pressure on our local MPs–especially for those of us who live in a constituency with a Conservative MP–to agree to these amendments. With the election foremost on MPs’ minds, they’ll be particularly likely to be attentive to their constituents’ concerns, especially where a university is so integral to the economic and cultural life of the area.

 

Make no mistake: the HE Bill as it currently stands is an existential threat to academic life in this country. And it is UCU that is fighting it: the representative bodies of university leaders, GuildHE and UUK, sent out a joint letter on 2 March ‘signalling [their] strong support’ for the Bill, so we cannot rely on our employers to defend British Universities.

 

Why go to conference?

Sitting in a windowless hall during a debate on the amendment of a motion, I wondered this.

And realised – it’s democracy in action, which isn’t always as exciting as it sounds!

UEA UCU President at conference

UEA UCU President Amanda Williams speaking to a motion

Like everything, there are good and bad bits.

Procedure, policy, rule changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But also networking, inspirational stories, different experiences.

 

Sheila Coleman

 

I’ve come back fortified by solidarity, and reminded of everything a union achieves, not just pay, but much, much more: improved, fairer working conditions and rights, highlighting the issues faced by those on casual contracts, or because of colour, gender, sexuality, or disability.

 

 

 

 

The incoming Trade Union Act means all members need to engage, not just the activists.

 

It’s our union, our voice, our vote.UCU mug your union your voice your vote

The next 5 years

Being in a trade union is about coming together collectively to fight for workers’ rights.  Those who have followed the election campaign will know that it’s likely that unions are going to lose some of the hard-won rights and it’s going to be a lot harder to campaign and support our members.

Please think about what you can do to help UCU@UEA.

Strength in numbers – recruit a friend
Be public about your membership – mugs etc available from the office
Let the committee know what’s going on
Write something for the newsletter
Interested in negotiating, supporting colleagues in cases, admin? Get in touch!
 

Many of us are feeling angry, depressed, useless after the election result.  A brilliant call to action comes from Laurie Penny: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/dont-give-angry-population-hard-govern-depressed-population-easy

 

This blog post is inspiring:

http://classonline.org.uk/blog/item/five-ways-to-deal-with-a-full-blown-conservative-government

This group was set up after tuition fees were hiked up in the last government.  Many of you talented people could help out: http://www.arts-emergency.org/

And please, look after yourselves.  Academics have one of the highest workloads of any job & it’s exhausting.  Make time for you, whether you are academic or otherwise (written by ALC member at the weekend!). http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/looking-after-yourself-as-radical.html

Outside work there are campaign organisations that the trade unions support which you can get involved in:

People’s Assembly

38 Degrees

Pension update 16.11.14

Talks on Thursday produced a joint statement from UCU and UUK negotiators.

 

UCU Higher Education Committee will vote on whether to accept the statement proposals on Wednesday 19th.

If accepted, the boycott would be suspended and no pay deductions would be made for action taken.  A number of negotiating meetings both formal and informal would be held between now and January and actuaries from USS, UUK and UCU would meet to discuss the valuation criteria.

 

At UEA we had scheduled an extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday 19th to debate a motion considering a move to strike action as a result of UEA’s 100% pay deduction.  This meeting will still take place, and the boycott remains in place until Wednesday.