Nottingham’s Refugee Week starts 17th June

We would like to share this year’s great programme for Refugee Week. The Week is designed as an act of solidarity that cuts across the boundaries of place, culture and language by challenging the myths and stereotypes that misrepresent refugees and asylum seekers.  The number of refugees and displaced people in the world is increasing again, with a million or more in Europe, and the tragic nature of this displacement has been brought home by the poverty, hunger, and distress in Calais and Dunkirk, the desperate situation in Greece and Central Europe, and the recent drownings in the Mediterranean.

The programme can  can be downloaded here: RWeek Brochure design 1 LATEST VERSION smaller

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reserve your tickets for our Mayday event on Friday

This year your union is celebrating May Day a bit later than usual: Friday 13th of May at the University Staff Club.
 
May Day brings an important occasion to show strength, togetherness and solidarity to our colleagues at the Arts Faculty. For over a century, workers all over the world have celebrated May Day as International Workers Day. The tradition started in 1890 when trade unions in many countries called for a protest at the beginning of May in furtherance of the campaign for an 8 hour working day. Over the years it has become a celebration, a time when workers can show union and solidarity by having fun.
 
UCU will be hosting its annual celebration for May Day on Friday 13th of May from 5.15 pm at Nottingham University Staff Club, The Hemsley. A flyer is abelow to share with colleagues. Reserve your tickets at ucu@nottingham.ac.uk
 
This year we are bringing back Mas y Mas, a local Latin acoustic power trio playing irresistible Afro-Cuban, Flamenco and salsa rhythms. Fiesta Flamenco  will bring their passionate, proud and exciting dance and our local Socialist Choir will ensure May Day keeps its spirits bright!
 
This will be a great opportunity to bring friends and family for a relaxing and enjoyable evening. Children are more than welcome and can come for free. 

mayday flyer 2016

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Read our letter to the VC declaring our dispute with the employer

Professor Sir David Greenaway

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
April 1, 2016

Dear Sir David

Re: Declaration of dispute – Proposed Redundancies in the Arts

I write on behalf of the UCU Branch Committee and in conjunction with advice from our Regional Office. As you know, UCU has been engaged in a process of first informal and then formal consultation regarding the Arts Portfolio Review since the 2014/2015 academic year. We have put forward a number of suggestions to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies in the Arts, which according to the timetable outlined in January 2016 are set to come into effect before the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year.

These suggestions have included the following:

  • a wider call for voluntary redundancy to facilitate staff movement where practical and desirable
  • redeployment of staff across the Faculty to facilitate expansion in growth areas
  • investment in recruitment
  • reconsideration of the decision to increase tariff across affected departments
  • review of expenditure elsewhere in the institution (e.g. capital investment)

We have also raised concerns, in advance, about the way that information relating to selection for redundancy has been communicated to staff and about the way in which the selection itself has been made. Despite the fact that it is the role not the person that will be made redundant, individual members of staff in two departments (Archaeology plus Theology and Religious Studies) have been individually identified as at risk of redundancy. UCU raised objections to this approach in informal consultation and at the formal consultation meeting on 8 March, but the proposals continue to identify specific individuals. Moreover, the process by which these areas/individuals in Theology and Archaeology have been selected remains nontransparent. We have been offered no insight into the rationale for these decisions and the process appears open to misuse.

Additionally, our Regional Official, Sue Davis, twice requested from the Faculty PVC information that has a material impact on the Union’s ability to consult meaningfully with the University. While some of this information has been provided, it is incomplete and does not meet the expectations for meaningful engagement outlined in her letter of 15 March.

UCU Regional Office may provide further clarification when Sue returns from annual leave next week, but the following list provides an overview of our concerns with the Faculty’s response as presented in the letter from the PVC of 24 March:

  • Financial Information: the introduction of Faculty Operating Costs into departmental budgets in February 2016 has not been fully explained. While we touched on this matter in our informal meeting with you on March 30, it is notable that the Faculty did not provide us with clarification of why these costs were introduced at this particular time nor with a breakdown of what these costs cover.
  • Contribution Rates: the Faculty PVC has declined to provide information of contribution rates for all schools and departments in the University on the grounds that this information is ‘sensitive’. Here too I note with appreciation that you have personally assured us that this information will be provided; however, the fact that the request was refused by the Faculty PVC raises further questions about the Faculty’s commitment to meaningful consultation.
  • SSRs: UCU appreciates the Faculty’s attempt to present SSR figures that represent the actual ratio of currently teaching staff to current students; however, the fact that this approach precludes comparison with SSRs in other faculties or at competitor institutions makes it impossible to assess the strength of the case being made here. Moreover, I note that the PVC has not responded to questions about HEFCE guidance on SSRs in Languages nor about the impact that the proposed cuts (and the attendant rise in SSR) will have on the recruitment in the affected departments.
  • Selection Criteria: UCU has major concerns about the selection criteria, which we have raised and will continue to raise. At present, I note in particular, that the PVC’s evasive response to UCU’s request for confirmation that SET data will not be used indicates an unwillingness to provide us with reasonable clarity.

In view of the above, we do not believe that the process of consultation to date has been meaningful. Moreover, we have seen no evidence to suggest that the Faculty approach to consultation will change, nor that alternative proposals will be considered seriously.

The PVC’s letter of March 24 presents as non-negotiable a position that is incompatible with the UCU position on compulsory redundancies. He states that “costs need to be reduced to improve contribution percentages and reducing pay costs – which account for approx. 94% of the Faculty’s operating costs – is the only feasible option”. Given that the PVC has rejected our request to widen the call for voluntary redundancy and that the timeframe for achieving these savings precludes achieving them through natural attrition, it appears that the decision to resort to compulsory redundancies has been taken already. In addition to the formal written response quoted above, this is the message conveyed in formal consultation meetings with UCU and with individual departments.

It is with regret that I am therefore writing to formally register a dispute with you on the issue listed above.

UCU reserves its right to now progress this matter but the institution is aware that resolution of this issue requires two commitments on the part of the University:

  1. That compulsory redundancies will not be used to achieve cost savings as part of the Arts Portfolio Review
  2. That the University will enter into meaningful discussion with UCU over the current use of contribution ratings and their impact on job security for staff in our bargaining group across the institution.

This dispute will continue until such time as the above issues, and any issues related to any industrial action called for by the union in support of the dispute, have been resolved to UCU’s satisfaction.

Yours sincerely

Dr Matt Green

Branch President, University of Nottingham UCU

cc Director of HR

cc Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Arts

cc UCU Branch Office cc UCU Regional Office

cc UCU National Head of Regional Organisation & Nations

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

University of Nottingham threatens staff with redundancy

Overview:

The University of Nottingham is proposing compulsory redundancies in the Faculty of Arts to save 11.5 FTE in staff costs. These cuts are on top of over 20FTE of savings made by the Faculty since 2015. These proposed redundancies are part of an ongoing process of review that will affect all departments in the University in order to generate a £30 million annual surplus at a time when the University is also undertaking an ambitious range of building projects.  We are asking that the University rule out compulsory redundancies and enter into a process of meaningful discussion over the Arts Portfolio Review and the contribution ratings used across the institution. Following a motion passed unanimously by over 200 members on March 16, UCU has entered into dispute with the University and is undertaking this indicative e-ballot on industrial action.

Redundancies and the University’s fiscal priorities:

UCU is concerned that the current review of the Faculty of Arts represents a considerable escalation of the use of redundancy to reduce staffing costs across the institution. We have expressed concerns that these redundancies are part of a larger programme of redundancies and have received no assurances that other departments/schools are not being prepared for similar levels of redundancy in order to secure the University’s target of an annual £30 million surplus. At the same time, the University is financing a highly ambitious programme of capital investment for which Management has provided us with a cost breakdown. This capital investment programme will see expenditure in the range of £580 million from 2014 to 2020. Of this amount, £240 million has already been committed to projects like Project Transform and a new Sports Village, but significantly £340 million remains uncommitted. While some projects will involve contributions from external partners we are awaiting further details about the levels of contributions from these partnerships and we retain our position that staff are the most important resource of a university.

We are awaiting information on how this plan of capital investment compares with the building programmes of other Russell Group institutions. We do, however, have figures published by the Russell Group in October 2014 indicating that the average capital spend of a Russell Group university is £62.4 million. Averaged over six years, the University’s planned capital investment of £580 million suggests that the University of Nottingham is considering an investment target of £96.6 million per year, a full £34.2 million per year above the 2014 average for the Russell Group. While not all of this money will come from the University budget, UCU has serious concerns about planning this level of investment while undertaking compulsory redundancies.

The mechanism for ensuring the generation of this £30 million surplus is the contribution rating that sets the target for the surplus that each faculty in the University must generate, and this is often broken down with different rates for different departments. UCU has raised questions over the process by which these targets are set and is awaiting a response from the University. We are similarly awaiting information on the different contribution ratings for all schools across the institution.

Consultation thus far

Despite the request from the Branch Committee to engage constructively with the new Faculty PVC in drawing up proposals regarding the Faculty of Arts, made on September 30th 2015, the first meeting did not take place until January 14th. At this point it was clear that the decision to incorporate a significant number of redundancies in the proposals had already been taken and that alternative proposals, such as redeployment, investment in recruitment, a lower student tariff and alternative cost-saving measures, would not be given serious consideration. A call for voluntary redundancies in affected departments was made in 2015 and a number of staff took these up. There is a second call open at present but Management does not believe that this will achieve the target reduction in staff.

It was also clear that considerations over Student Staff Ratio (SSR) were secondary to those relating to financial targets. UCU does not believe that the consultation process thus far has moved the University to any position to avoid these redundancies and a number of significant questions have not been answered. On 1 April, UCU formally entered into dispute with the University and opened an indicative ballot.

Staffing provision in the Faculty of Arts

Between March 2015 and March 2016, the Faculty of Arts has seen a reduction of over 20 full time equivalent staff (FTE), largely through retirements and voluntary redundancy. The effect of the proposed staff reductions on the international reputation and marketability of the departments in scope has not been adequately considered. The impact of the decision to continue reducing staff costs on pedagogy and workload across the Faculty has similarly not been explored. The current proposal is to cut staff now and then establish a working party to consider the shape of the department and curriculum delivery throughout 2016/17 on the basis of which staff remain after the proposed redundancies.

The UCU has been told that a key aim of the current proposals is to equalize Student to Staff Ratios across the Faculty. The University is aiming for each department to have SSRs between 16-20 students for each member of staff. However, redeployment or investment in departments with an SSR greater than 20 has specifically been ruled out of the current proposals. One department with an SSR of 15.9 is expected to lose 2 full time members of staff while other departments will continue to have an SSR in excess of 1:20.

No rationale for the 16-20 SSR target has been provided. This absence of explanation is all the more significant in comparison with publicly reported figures that show the average SSR for the University and the Russell group both fall BELOW 16. According to the Complete University Guide (2016), The University of Nottingham SSR is 1:14. According to the same figures, 14 Russell group universities have a lower SSR than the Nottingham. Likewise 14 Russell Groups have better NSS results than the University of Nottingham and yet while considerable expense has been devoted to improving these results, the University’s position on SSR is going in the opposite direction. In terms of the Russell Group’s own figures in October 2014, the average SSR across its members was 1:8. While these figures may rely on generous ways of counting staff, they remain significantly lower than the minimum SSR being imposed upon the Arts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have you signed our UCU petition yet against proposed redundancies?

The University of Nottingham is proposing to make 11.5 academic staff redundant. The proposals will inevitably lead to compulsory redundancies for academic staff in an institution that is relatively affluent.  The University consistently generates an annual surplus in excess of £20m but aims to see this increased to £30m. Alongside the proposed redundancies, the University is seeking to finance an ambitious £580 million capital investment programme through a combination of internal and external funding.

 

Sign the petition against redundancies here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students write in protest at proposed Arts redundancies

Students in the Arts Faculty have written this forceful letter in   protest at the proposed redundancies and Project Transform.

ug students letter arts faculty

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Academic redundancies:general members meeting Wednesday March 16th

Those of you in the Faculty of Arts will have received already the shocking news that the Faculty plans to cut 11.5 Full Time Equivalent staff across five departments. At present, we expect that this will translate into a minimum of 12 people who will lose their jobs with some departments facing more than a 20% reduction in staff. Though the date for issuing notice has not been confirmed, we have good reason to believe that these redundancies will come into effect before the start of the 2016/17 academic year.

 

This coming Wednesday, March 16, we will be holding a general meeting at 1pm in Pope A13. This meeting will address the current proposals for the Arts and crucially we will also address as a matter of urgency the risk of redundancy facing schools in other faculties now and over the coming years. What is happening in the Arts today is indicative of a politics of austerity that is already having repercussions across our university. It is affecting what we teach and research, how we work and indeed whether some of us work at all.

It is imperative that all members seek to attend this meeting which will decide the Branch’s response to the current proposals and also our long-term strategy for challenging redundancies across the institution.

These proposed redundancies are part of a larger picture in which the University targets staff costs (in this case £900k) while seeking to generate a £30 million surplus to cover capital investment. In addition to the new £40 million sports centre, the current proposals for cuts were being finalised as it was announced that the University would be spending £17 million on a new arts building: http://www.nottinghampost.com/New-17m-University-Nottingham-building-transform/story-28767847-detail/story.html. Moreover, the announcement comes while schools are bracing themselves for the disruption and uncertainty that will be caused by the implementation of the £50 million Project Transform, which will see irreparable changes to the working lives of administrative staff for the sake of ensuring that the minimum necessary expenditure can be allocated to supporting the needs of our students.

 

The current drive to cut staff costs across the University is a direct result of recent changes in the way that University organises its finances and the variable contribution rates assigned to different units. Surely in view of the departure of the Chief Financial Officer, this would be a good time to rethink the constraints that are exerting a strangle-hold on school budgets. Our view is that the contribution rates imposed on faculties ought to be debated openly and the rationale behind them subjected to due scrutiny to ensure that the current rates are both fair and necessary. Notably, when UCU asked whether the Arts Faculty’s contribution rate might be re-examined, the response was yes but only after “the Faculty is as lean as it can be.” In other words, this rate may well change but only after Management is certain that staff are providing the maximum return for minimum investment.

 

Many of you will know colleagues who have already been made redundant as a result of programme changes and course closures. Others will know of staff invited to ‘informal’ meetings at which senior managers encouraged individuals (behind closed doors and without union representation) to accept voluntary severance packages. The current proposals take these developments a step further because 11 FTE will be cut from programmes that will continue to run. We continue to oppose compulsory redundancies whatever the number, but our view is that if the current proposals proceed unchanged we will see more individual redundancies and an increase in multiple redundancies within single units.

 

While it is some small consolation that the University does not plan to close departments as part of the current review, the plan to  cut staff and maintain delivery of teaching and research sets a dangerous precedent. It may well be that many of you are in schools or departments where the spectre of double-digit redundancies is already on the horizon and our view is that this approach to cost-saving needs to be opposed before it spreads.

 

In addition to the redundancies themselves, the selection criteria that are being proposed will set far-reaching and dangerous precedents. It is proposed that staff in affected departments submit information on their contributions to Strategy 2020 measured against the promotion criteria for their current level. These contributions will be scored and those with the lowest scores will be selected for redundancy. Staff will in effect be competing with each other to stay in post, a process that will be deeply divisive and will have a long-term impact on the morale of these departments. Moreover this approach suggests that SET and SEM scores, embedded in the promotion process, will directly influence the decision about whether or not individuals will face redundancy. Such a scenario would represent a serious misuse of the student voice that has a very real risk of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender and disability. It also puts the fates of hardworking staff in the hands of a student-evaluation process that is non-transparent and notoriously unreliable.

 

UCU has particular concerns over the stated rationale for the proposed cuts in the Arts and about the real risk that short-term thinking will damage the long-term viability of the departments in question. These issues will be discussed at greater length on Wednesday, but our overarching concern, relevant to each and every one of our members, is the way that redundancy and the threat of redundancy are undermining the very values of co-operation, self-directed research and high-quality teaching that were once taken as the hallmarks of a great university.

 

Together we can make a difference. It is only a few short months since a co-ordinated Union response saw the number of compulsory redundancies for level 5 and 6 APM staff anticipated as part of Project Transform drop from over 20 to zero. If you are able to attend the meeting on Wednesday, please do come and add your voice as we co-ordinate our defence not only of jobs but also of the values we all cherish.

 

Motions to be discussed can be downloaded here:  Motions 16 march

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment