Protests and strike ballots as Vice Chancellors prepare for fees and cuts
February 21, 2011 1 Comment
- Day of action on Thursday 24th February – includes mass picket of Vice Chancellors’ conference in London
- Support the strike ballot in UCU –happening now
- Join the TUC march for an alternative, 26th March, Central London
- Education protest news: Eton, Southall and a march of 3000 in Glasgow
- Resources to download
Thursday 24th February
National Day of action, including mass picket of Vice Chancellors’ conference
From 2pm outside Woburn House, Tavistock Square, Central London (click for map)
Feeder marches from London universities including LSE, KCL, LSBU, UCL & ULU
Vice Chancellors prepare to push fees and cuts
One week from today, on Thursday 24 February, Universities UK – an organisation representing the managers and vice chancellors of every university in Britain – will hold its spring members’ meeting.
We can only speculate on the agenda, but it is certain to include the topic of hiking up tuition fees. Since the government raised the cap on tuition fees in December, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and Imperial College have already declared that they will start charging the maximum £9000. When tuition fees were set at £3000, it took only a few years before almost every single university was charging the maximum. Now Professor Michael Arthur, president of the Russell Group and Vice Chancellor of Leeds University, has said that charging more than the recommended £6000 is “critically important to the ethos of this university, whatever happens next.”
But however desperately the university needs the cash, it is still able to scrape together a three figure salary for Professor Arthur: a cool £244,000 in 2009-10. University Vice Chancellors are some of the highest-paid managers in the public sector – all 133 now earn more than the Prime Minister. The Universities UK president, Professor Steve Smith of Exeter University, is no exception, taking home £261,000 in 2008-9. Professor Arthur’s colleague on the Russell Group board, Malcolm Grant of UCL, received pay and bonuses last year worth £404,272 and even he is eclipsed by one senior administrator at Oxford who receives over £600,000.
At the same time as increasing their own salaries, these Vice Chancellors are offering their own academic staff an increase of just 0.4% – which at current inflation rates means a severe cut. They are also undermining agreements on pensions and refusing to discuss job security in the hope of making it easier to sack lecturers and make cuts. That’s why university and college workers are voting on whether to take strike action in March.
The Education Activist Network has called for a day of action on Thursday to target the Vice Chancellors. Students at Leeds will be putting Professor Arthur “on trial”, and protestors in Sussex will be using books to defend education. And in London, student protestors will be marching to a mass picket of the Universities UK conference itself.
Resources to download
Support the UCU ballot for strikes in defence of education
Check the EAN website for resources to campaign for a yes vote in the UCU strike ballot. Stopping the attacks on jobs, pensions and pay is vital to stopping the cuts that are set to devastate the sector – and a united strike by students and lecturers would show the government how serious we are about fighting for education.
For more on the strikes, see https://educationactivistnetwork.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/why-might-our-lecturers-be-taking-strike-action/
Petition to support strike action
Student leaflet about strikes
Take to the streets on 26th March
If the ballot is successful, the strike would take place just days before the March for the Alternative on March 26th. The TUC hopes to see over half a million people take to the streets of London against the coalition government’s cuts programme. This is a chance for students and education workers to unite with hundreds of thousands of trade unionists, public service workers and users, pensioners, disabled people, the unemployed, community activists in a magnificent day of united resistance. If we can do it three days after a shutdown of the education system, all the better!
- 3000 students – including many student nurses – marched in Glasgow from the Hetherington Research Club (HRC), which students have occupied for over two weeks, to a meeting of the University Council on Wednesday.
- A student strike last week at Villiers school, Southall, was able to stop management from sacking a popular maths teacher and union rep and force the head to resign!
- Local students walked out of college to join our protest at the Old Etonians’ Association open day, and marched on the local Tory Party HQ. We will soon be releasing an “EAN goes to Eton” short film of the day.