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January, 2017:

Regional Office Update and Important Dates

Re: Regional Update and important dates

Gender Pay Gap in FE and HE and a new regional network

The Region is also looking to create a new virtual network of reps across both sectors to look at the issue and to build support for understanding the data and planning steps to improve it. This will be supported by our national team as well and would be a brilliant opportunity for someone who is interested in the gender pay gap to get involved and get support from other local reps across the region. If you have anyone in your branch that has responsibility for this already then please could you let us know so that we can add them to our email network. If you have not assigned this responsibility to anyone then please ask your branch whether anyone would like to get more involved in this subject and then let us have their contact details.

Branches in both sectors are being asked to ensure that the issue of the gender pay gap is being raised locally, and that equal pay audits are being carried out. Ideally this should be a regular item on your negotiating team or there should be a specific standing committee set up to review the data collected by your employer. There are two useful guides on this:

In FE: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8434/AoC-analysing-the-gender-pay-gap—toolkit-for-colleges-Dec-16/pdf/aoc_analysing-gender-pay-gap-toolkit-final_dec16.pdf

In HE: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/1923/JNCHES-equal-pay-reviews-guidance-Nov-13/pdf/new_jnches_equal_pay_reviews_guidance_2013.pdf

If you need any help with this or with interpreting the data that your employer provides to you then do please get in touch with the regional office.

Important Dates

Casework Training One and Two – the regional office is rolling out two new training days for reps undertaking or interested in undertaking casework. Casework One is a basic introduction to casework and Casework Two is a more advanced day looking at the law in detail and providing specific advice for holding formal meetings under procedure. The two days will be repeated throughout the year so that reps new to casework can attend the first course and then gain some experience before attending the second day. Experienced reps who have already undertaken our introduction to casework course can simply attend the second day. The first two dates that we have for this are:

Casework One – 21 March Carlow Street

Casework Two – 25 April Carlow Street

Senior Reps briefing – 10 May – the regional office will be holding its regular briefing for senior reps with an agenda that will be relevant to the industrial situation at the time. Please remember that this is limited to two reps per institution. If you have any specific issues that you would like the regional office to address then do please get in touch.

Recruitment Week w/c 27 February HE, w/c 6 March FE – national UCU has set its new dates for the national  recruitment weeks and we are going to be having separate weeks for HE and FE. Please can you start planning now for the activities you will be undertaking and also let us know if you need any materials or assistance from the regional office. We will be sending out regular reminder messages to branches to assist in planning.

Post-92 Network – online meeting – 22 Feb – 10.00 – 12.00 – This network for reps in Post 92 branches for discussion and exchange on polices . The first meeting last term included discussion on workload modelling, precarious contracts and equal pay audits. The meeting on 22 Feb will feature Rob Copeland UCU Policy Officer for a discussion on the REF and the TEF and the impact on Post 92 HEIs. Please contact the regional office on eastern@ucu.org.uk if you can attend (ps. Notice is needed to ensure access to online meeting software is possible).

Regional Committee – the next meeting of the Regional Committee will be on Saturday 4 February at 11am at Cambridge Regional College. If you want any information about these meetings then do get in touch with Pete Monaghan on pmonaghan@camre.ac.uk. These meetings are a really good opportunity to share news and find out information from other reps in the region and I would urge all branches to make sure that they send someone along (or two people if you would rather not come to your first meeting on your own!). We normally have cake and everyone is friendly so do please consider coming along.

Lords Amendment sets robust minimum standards for universities

Lords amendment sets robust minimum standards for universities

10 January 2017

Universities must protect academic freedom, maintain a broad curriculum, and contribute to society through partnership and research, according to a new amendment to the Higher Education and Research BillOpens new window just passed in the House of Lords.

By setting out the functions required of universities, the opposition amendment aims to address concerns raised by UCU and others that making it easier for alternative providers to enter the sector would threaten the quality, autonomy and international reputation of UK higher education.

The move came on the same day as a new surveyOpens new window by YouGov for UCU revealed that four in five academics (81%) believe government plans to give new providers easier access to degree-awarding powers and a university title would have a negative impact on UK higher education.

Responding to the development, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘This amendment sends a clear message to government that universities have a key public role to play in our society. It ensures that any institution calling itself a university must meet important standards of academic freedom and intellectual endeavour.

‘UCU has been warning for some time that making it easier to award and revoke university title threatens the autonomy of our universities and their long-standing international reputation for excellence, so I congratulate peers for putting a brake on these plans. We will continue to work with peers in the coming weeks to oppose the rest of this damaging and divisive bill.’