Universities must do more to stamp out racial harassment says UCU

23 October 2019 | last updated: 24 October 2019

Responding to a damning report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which warns that ‘racial harassment is a common occurrence for many students and staff in British universities’, UCU said universities must do more to stamp out racial harassment.

The report warns there is a reluctance to acknowledge the prevalence of racial harassment within British universities and that some institutions would put their reputation above tackling the problem.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘There must be a zero-tolerance approach to racial harassment in and around our universities. Universities have to recognise the scale of the problem and take serious steps to deal with it, and to support those who come forward or are affected by it.

‘We agree with the EHRC that there needs to be a proactive duty on universities to protect staff from harassment and an improved reporting process for staff and students”.

Jo Grady UCU GS in Cambridge and Norwich on 28 Oct

Jo Grady UCU General Secretary Speaking Tour

Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary, has spent most of September and will spend most of October touring branches in all of the regions and nations of UCU.  She will be concluding her tour by visiting two institutions in our region – UEA and Cambridge – on Monday 28 October.

Jo will be speaking on a number of topics including the disputes in Higher Education over USS and Pay as well as more generally about her plans for the Union. She would also very much like to hear what members from all sectors in the union have to say and listen to any concerns that they may have. This is a really fantastic opportunity to hear from the General Secretary and get to meet her and let her know your views.

There is no need to register for these meetings although it would be useful if you could let us know if you are planning on attending so that we can be clear about possible numbers.

Venue Details: 

1pm UEA Lecture Theatre LT3, UEA Campus, Norwich NR4 7TJ

Find map details here . Parking at UEA is always busy. Details on the University website for parking can be found here. Details for the Norwich Park and Ride can be found here


5pm Lecture Room 3, Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

Find map details here . Parking in Cambridge is both difficult and expensive. If you are travelling by car then please check out the Cambridge Park and Ride Site here

We look forward to seeing you on the day

Lydia Richards, Eastern and Home Counties Regional Official

Higher education staff make the sector what it is. Vote now to be rewarded for your hard work

Dear colleague,

By the standards which our employers like to use university staff have achieved great things in the decade since the financial crisis. The sector’s income has increased by over £11 billion. Universities’ reserves have almost tripled. As we learnt only last week, more than 50% of young people now attend university.

We, the staff, have made those things possible. But over the same period the proportion of university spending on staff has dropped. The OECD has found that UK universities’ spending on staff as a proportion of income is 6 percentage points lower than the EU average. Our pay has repeatedly been cut relative to inflation, and our wages would need to increase substantially to return to the value they had at the time of the financial crisis. Even by employers’ own calculations, we have lost out to the tune of about 17% over the last decade.

Quite simply, our vice-chancellors no longer accept that we deserve to be rewarded for creating the world-class sector which they like to boast about.

What are we asking for?

Given how poorly we are being rewarded our claims in the current higher education pay dispute are modest. Every year UCU and other campus unions lodge a detailed claim to our employers covering job security, equality, workload, and pay. This year we are asking for:

  • a pay increase of RPI plus 3% (a total of 5.6% as at August 2019) or a minimum of £3,349
  • action to close the gender pay gap
  • work on closing the ethnicity pay gap based on an intersectional analysis of inequalities relating to race, gender, and other protected characteristics
  • adoption of the stress management standards (or equivalent) approach to workload management in universities.

Tackling casualisation, improving our job security

One of the most detailed parts of our claim concerns casualisation. We are asking employers to agree to a framework for ending precarious employment, including:

  • a commitment to end zero-hours contracts
  • moving hourly-paid staff to fractional contracts
  • a UK-wide review of the use of hourly paid lecturers in post-92s
  • an action plan to improve job security for researchers
  • proper contracts and guaranteed hours for postgraduate teaching assistants.

This is not an opportunistic raid on universities’ bank accounts. We are just asking to be valued properly for our hard work. In many areas of this claim we are not demanding immediate action; we are simply demanding that employers get round the table with us and come up with a plan to start addressing some of the problems that make our lives and our work much harder than they need to be.

Vote today

UCU has attended multiple negotiation meetings with employers over the past few months. They have offered us a pay ‘increase’ of 1.8%, which is well below the RPI index of inflation. On job security, equality, and workload they have essentially refused to negotiate.

Those of us who went on strike over USS last year will remember how effective our action was in getting an improved offer out of employers. The larger the mandate you give your union by voting in this strike ballot, the more likely it is that employers will make us an offer before any action has to happen. And don’t forget: if we do have to go on strike again, we are doing more than ever to support you through UCU’s fighting fund.

Finally, if you have lost or still not received your ballot papers please make sure that your membership information is up to date using My UCU, and request your replacement ballot paper here.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

UCEA report shows that value of uni staff pay has plummeted (7 Oct 2019)

Value of university staff pay has plummeted in last decade, employers’ OWN research reveals

4 October 2019

Pay for university staff has plummeted in real-terms in the last decade, according to a report released by universities’ representatives.

The findings, from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), show that the pay of staff has dropped by around 17% in real-terms since 2009.

The University and College Union (UCU) said it was shocked and disappointed that UCEA has tried to spin the findings to suggest pay has not fallen so sharply. In its presentation of the data, UCEA has chosen to show findings only from 2013 and cherry picked the information used to calculate the figures.

However, table 8 of the report shows that pay has actually dropped by around 17% since 2009 when using the retail price index (RPI). Last month, Chancellor Sajid Javid rejected a call to stop using RPI, saying to do so risked damaging the economy and the public finances.

The union says that staff pay has actually fallen by around 20% in the last decade as pay awards in higher education have resulted in a cumulative increase of 11%. In the same time period, the RPI index has increased by 31.8%.  Meaning staff in higher education have seen the value of their pay decline by 20.8% since 2009.

The union’s analysis looked at the cumulative impact of the overall pay awards each year versus inflation, while the UCEA analysis looked at certain spine points. UCU said whichever method was preferred, staff pay had dropped by a minimum of 17% since 2009.

UCU members at 147 universities are currently being balloted for strike action over pay and workloads. UCU members at 69 institutions are also being balloted for action over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘At last the employers have revealed the full extent of the reduction in the value of university staff pay. We believe the true decline over the past decade is over 20%, but whichever way you look at it staff pay has plummeted. Universities need to immediately take steps to reverse the decade of decline.

‘It is quite remarkable that the employers have tried to spin a different story when the figures are available in their own report. UCU members currently being balloted for strike action over declining pay will be shocked and disappointed that universities could make such misleading claims. Cherry picking a later starting date and the information used to work out the figures cannot alter the fact that staff pay has declined.’

NUS stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with UCU in fight for fair pay and pensions

30 September 2019 | last updated: 1 October 2019

The National Union of Students (NUS) and UCU have issued a joint statement saying students stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with staff in the ongoing disputes over pay and pensions.

The statement outlines the shared commitment of both organisations to defending education, and calls on students to organise solidarity action in support of UCU members fighting attacks on pay and pensions.

The statement also asks students to contact their institution to raise concerns about the impact potential disruption may have on their studies, and put pressure on university employers to address the concerns of staff.

UCU has pledged to work closely with NUS to explain to students why the current ballots are taking place and commit to meaningful negotiations to resolve the disputes.

Last year, university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action when UCU members lost 14 days’ pay to defend their pensions. The union is also calling for action on pay, gender pay, casualised contracts and unsustainable workloads.

Sixty-nine institutions are being balloted in the row over Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions, while 147 institutions are being balloted at the same time as part of a dispute over pay, workloads, casualisation and equality. Ballots opened on Monday 9 September and will close on Wednesday 30 October. The union’s higher education committee will meet to consider the results on Friday 1 November.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘UCU and NUS have a shared commitment to defending education and we are proud of our joint work in striving for a better deal for staff and students. Staff’s working conditions are students’ learning conditions which is why it’s vital that we stand up against attacks on pay, pensions, workload and job insecurity. We welcome the support of NUS as we fight for the future of our universities.’

NUS president Zamzam Ibrahim said: ‘Staff are the cornerstone of higher education and should be properly rewarded. NUS stands shoulder to shoulder with UCU in the fight for fair pay and pensions, and decent working conditions.’

Full UCU and NUS statement on pay and pensions ballots