University of Nottingham UCU’s Alternative Financial Strategy – because there is a better way.

Earlier this year the University of Nottingham UCU branch launched its Alternative Financial Strategy. This was produced by engaging an external expert in higher education finances and drawing on the relevant disciplinary expertise of UoN’s branch members. The Strategy was overwhelmingly endorsed by members. It represents a response to the impact of the pandemic but also makes a longer-term case for managing the University’s finances differently and for making financial management in the University more open and democratic.

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A new attack on USS pensions

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is facing a renewed attack by the employers’ representatives, Universities UK (UUK).

Sam Marsh, one of UCU’s USS national negotiators, joined our branch meeting on 5 May to explain how we got to the current situation, what’s at stake, the implications of UUK’s proposals and UCU’s proposals to resolve the situation.

You can watch Sam’s presentation here.

You can view Sam’s slides here
https://uonucu.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/uss_update-SM-slides-for-talk.pdf

Response to the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was commissioned in the wake of last summer’s mass protests in over sixty countries and over several localities in Britain following the killing of George Floyd in the USA. The Black Lives Matter movement and mass protests meant that the struggle for racial justice become more relevant than ever.

The report’s main theme is an attempt to shift decades of understanding of the role of structural factors in determining the life chances of Britain’s ethnic minority population, to a focus on the failings of groups and individuals. The narrative of the report presents a view that for some ethnic minority groups, they have ‘never had it so good’. Whilst for others their lack of success or progress is reflective of the inability to grasp the boundless opportunities. Within this perspective, the importance of notions of institutional and structural racism, in understanding race and ethnic disparities/inequality are out of favour.

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UCU UoN Response to Management’s Presentation on our AFS

UCU UoN response to the presentation by management on the Alternative Financial Strategy

We appreciate UoN management’s written response to UCU’s Alternative Financial Strategy (AFS) in their 36-slide presentation. Unfortunately, however, the UCU branch committee believes that it frequently misrepresents our position and contains several inaccuracies.

We are particularly disappointed that management has failed to understand that the AFS is not merely about financial figures but rather reflects a fundamentally different approach to how UoN finances could be organised. This alternative needs to be debated openly rather than rejected outright. UCU seeks to open up this discussion, whilst management seems to want to close it down.

Here we set out our responses to the key points raised by UoN management. We do not intend to engage with every point raised in the 36-slide presentation but to focus on a few key issues.

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Challenging Lean Financial Management: An Alternative Financial Strategy for UoN.

For years, the University of Nottingham (UoN) has prided itself for its low debt levels and low cash reserves as a sign of highly efficient financial management. Yet, when the pandemic hit in March 2020 this lean financial management strategy unravelled. In order not to break the conditions of its Revolving Credit Facility (RCF), the University had to adopt drastic measures. It cut expenses by 15 per cent across the board followed by a Voluntary Redundancy scheme of unprecedented proportions. More than 400 members of staff left the institution. This has meant that workloads for remaining staff have skyrocketed and morale is extremely low.

There has to be a better way and there is.

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