IN THIS ISSUE Devaluation by mikeholy


									                                         No 1  Autumn 2010

                                               IN THIS ISSUE:

    Chair‟s Welcome: “Who are we?”
                                                             Report on UCU Congress 2010
    Spread the Message!
    National Dispute Update – UCU                           Outsourcing
     United                                                  Role Profiles Revisited
    Defending Your Pensions                                 Performance Management
    Funding Cuts - Ramblings from the                       Academic Related Staff and Green
     back office                                              Campus management
                                                             Dorothy Wright Remembered
    Reasons to be cheerful . . .

                                 Chair’s Welcome: “Who are we?”

This is the first Academic Related (AR)                 For more on the important role that we play,
Newsletter and as Chair of the Academic                 take a look at our Academic Related
Related Staff Committee I am very proud to              Manifesto:
be able to contribute to this first edition.  
Who are we? We are University
Administrators, Librarians and IT                       In many Universities we are no longer called
Professionals and the make-up of our AR                 Academic Related but have acquired other
Staff Committee reflects this. Members are              names as we have been neatly slotted into
elected at our AGM from each of those areas             „job families‟. We are now called AR, APM
in equal numbers.                                       (Administrative Professional and
                                                        Managerial), MPA (Management,
More specifically we fill roles such as alumni          Professional, Administrative); Professional
officers; archivists; brand managers; careers           Support Staff or Support Staff.
officers; computing staff; editors;
environmental officers; estates managers;               Since UCU was formed the AR Staff
faculty managers; housing officers;                     committee has achieved the following:
international officers; lab managers; learning
facilitators; librarians; planning officers;               Produced a Manifesto;
regional development managers; safety                      Won the right to introduce motions to
officers; student advisors; student union                   Congress;
managers; technical services managers;                     Won the right to have 2 fully voting
transport managers; web team managers.                      delegates from AR Staff Committee
In other words our Universities do not                      attend Congress;
operate without us.

                              Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 1
   Won the right to send someone to be          The year ahead will be tough one for all in
    part of the UCU delegation to TUC            the public sector and in particular for staff in
    Congress.                                    Higher Education, which faces the biggest
This year, 2010, we submitted 4 motions          cut of all. We have yet to realise the full
and 4 amendments to Congress and HESC.           impact of the Comprehensive Spending
The majority of the motions had been             Review or the Browne Report on our
written by, or had serious input from one of     Universities. We have yet to realise the very
the AR Staff Committee‟s Vice-Chairs,            real threat to our Pensions.
Dorothy Wright (picture below), who died
suddenly before Congress. Members of the         Watch this space!
AR Staff Committee and those from the
wider Academic Related community ensured         Patricia Hulme, Chair, Academic Related
that our motions were heard (I would not         Committee
say properly debated) and agreed at
                                                 Spread the Message!
Congress. Dorothy continues to be a great
loss (see back page for a separate tribute to
                                                 Please pass this newsletter on to other
                                                 academic related members (or potential
                                                 members). Encourage them to join or get
                                                 more involved! To join UCU see:

                                                 To be added to the Academic Related mailing
                                                 list or if you have any questions on Academic
                                                 Related matters contact Stefano Fella,
                                                 National Industrial Relations Official (with
                                                 responsibility for academic related matters),

                                                 See also the UCU webpages on academic
What next for AR Staff? I find myself writing
                                                 related matters:
this as we face the most difficult period for
colleagues in Higher Education for over 20
                                                 Annual Meeting for Academic Related
years. The Coalition government has a
                                                 Staff, 16 March 2011
reckless zeal to ensure that efficiency
savings will be secured by attacking our jobs    It is time to start planning for the
and pensions. Many AR colleagues are in          forthcoming annual UCU members meeting
the invidious position of making staff           for Academic Related staff. This will take
redundant or facing redundancy themselves.       place on Wednesday 16 March 2011 at UCU
AR Staff are probably at the most risk, facing   Headquarters in Carlow Street, London NW1.
job losses through restructuring, the loss of    It will take place at a critical time for the
departments and the loss of libraries. IT is     union, and will provide an opportunity to
threatened as more and more of it is             debate the challenges facing the union in
„outsourced‟. Never forget, AR staff are the     general and academic related members in
„back office‟ staff whose contribution to our    particular, such as the impact of the
Universities is invaluable but who the           spending cuts and the government‟s reforms
politicians believe to be expendable.

                             Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 2
to higher education; strategies to defend       we would ballot for strike action and action
jobs and build the union; and fighting the      short of a strike early in the New Year.
twin threats of outsourcing and de-
professionalisation.                            UCU will continue to talk to the national
                                                employers to try and resolve the current
Put the meeting in your diary now and also      disputes but members should start preparing
remember the following dates:                   for action to defend our jobs, defend our
                                                pensions, and to defend education.
Deadline for motions - 23 February;
Deadline for registration for the Meeting and   We want academic related members to play
nominations to Academic Related Staff           a full part in the dispute and would be
Committee - 2 March.                            interested in your views as to the specific
                                                role academic related members could play in
Report of 2010 annual meeting                   industrial action. If you have ideas and
                                                comments, please contact Stefano Fella,
Last year‟s meeting held on 10 March 2010
heard reports on the work of UCU in relation
to academic-related staff and discussed         For more on the national dispute and
motions submitted by branches and local         updates see:
associations. There were also a number of
prominent national speakers and workshops       UCU Fighting Fund
on outsourcing, and fighting redundancies,
as well as plenty of opportunity to network     Although taking strike action is a last resort,
with colleagues. All motions passed at the      sometimes it is necessary to do so in order
annual meeting can be found here:               to combat intransigent managements. It's
                                                always tough to lose a day's pay, and so
http:11//              UCU has set up a fighting fund to support
/g/p/acrelannual2010_motions.rtf                members facing difficulties as a consequence
                                                of supporting the union's actions.
National Dispute Update – UCU United
                                                For details on how to donate to the UCU
At the special HE Sector Conference in          Fighting Fund see:
Manchester on 25 November, UCU delegates
noted that for the second year running UCEA     Defending Your Pensions
                                                The employers have been seeking to force
 Refused to negotiate a nationally agreed      through proposals to 'reform' the USS
   approach to improve job security and         university pension scheme. While UCU
   defend provision;                            negotiators have accepted that there is a
 Failed to act to address equality matters;    need for change and have put forward
 Offered a real-terms pay cut.                 alternative and sustainable proposals to do
                                                this, the employers seem determined to
Delegates agreed that if the employers          press ahead with their divisive plans, with
continued to refuse to talk to us about         the aim of reducing what they contribute to
measures to improve job security, and if        the scheme.
they continued to attack our pensions, then

                            Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 3
For more on the employers proposals and            times were tough. This time hard funded
our response see:                                  posts are at risk. What we don‟t know yet is                               whether real academic posts will be cut, or
See also the piece on the Edinburgh                whether it‟s the Academic Related/
University UCU website produced by                 professional support (or whatever they call
academic related member, Mike Holmes.              you now) staff that will bear the brunt as has               so often been the case.
                                                   In my mind we‟re damned both ways. Either
Management representatives blocked                 we‟re going to be selected for redundancy
proposals for an all-member referendum on          using some unintelligible system that is
these proposals, and hired a pension               neither fair or transparent; or the academic
communication firm to conduct a far less           workforce is going to be cut and the
robust consultation which presented only           workload for everyone, Academic and
their side of the argument. Very few active        Related will reach new and even more mind
USS members have responded.                        boggling levels.

Given the failure to consult properly, UCU         At least it was an Academic colleague (all be
staged our own national referendum – open          it a well trained one) that reminded HE
to UCU members and non-members alike.              Sector Conference that if they‟re coming for
The results of the referendum released on 14       Academic Related staff first, where are they
December showed overwhelming opposition            going to go next? I must buy him a pint the
to the employers‟ plans. Out of 31,000 votes       next time I see him. In a time when every
cast 96.3% voted against the employers‟            institution is looking for the illusive (and
proposals.                                         possibly meaningless) „excellence‟,
                                                   management get rid of those of us who are
Funding Cuts - Ramblings from the                  primarily responsible for enabling them to
back office                                        achieve it by broadening the student
                                                   experience of education.
“It‟s going to be bad isn‟t it?” is about the
most optimistic assessment I‟ve heard of           That‟s those of us with no career plan, and
how the new Con-Dem government is going            often no hope of ever identifying one. Those
to cut HE. As if that wasn‟t bad enough at         of us who they continue to outsource, even
my institution the management have                 after the numerous disasters that have
become incredibly reasonable of late. The          resulted in contracts being expensively
more sceptical of us are suggesting that they      abandoned and services needing to be re-
are trying to soften us up for what‟s ahead.       established in-house after the original,
As somewhere that hadn‟t really been               faithful, expertise is long gone. I generalise I
affected by the cuts of the previous “new          know, but this is a warning to management
Tory” government, they probably have good          that will probably go unheeded.
cause. The other comment I‟ve frequently
heard (often from well established academic        Maybe it‟s not all bad news though. The
colleagues) is that this time it‟s different. In   government may be trying to help
the past it‟s been the fixed term, contract        universities reduce the number of
staff that have been in the firing line when       redundancies needed to meet their austerity
                                                   targets. The impending devaluation of the

                              Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 4
USS pension scheme is likely to result in a       with over £120 billion of tax avoidance and
number of senior (in many senses of the           evasion.
word) staff, some of whom may have once
called themselves Academic Related, seeking       A week later, on 24 November, students
to retire sooner, rather than risk what           protested in equal numbers in their towns
they‟ve earned in the hope of a decent            and cities culminating in a wave of University
retirement. Rumours from those who have           Occupations not seen for generations –
friends in personnel at my institution have       many of these are still ongoing as we go to
mentioned a steady trickle of enquiries. If       press. The protests continued on 8 and 9
true this might mitigate the cuts at the other    December to coincide with the House of
end of the scale that the Tories are going to     Commons vote on raising tuition fees to
be forcing onto the sector. Surely only a         £9,000, and there are more in the pipeline...
cynic would put that in writing though?
                                                  Lesley McGorrigan, Leeds University,
Dan Arthur, LSHTM, Academic Related               Academic Related Committee
Committee (co-opted)

Reasons to be cheerful . . .

… there might be a bit of pessimism in the
back office but November saw over 50,000
students and staff march in London against
the trebling of fees, withdrawal of the
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
and the whole of the Tory cuts package that
will destroy UK education as we know it.
Thousands of young people, the supposedly
apathetic children of Thatcher, the IPod
                                                  Report on UCU Congress 2010
Generation, took their message loud and
clear right to the belly of the beast at Tory     The 2010 Congress in Manchester was
HQ.                                               historic for the Academic Related Staff
                                                  Committee as it was the first one to which
For the rest of Britain‟s workers and the poor    we could send two independent voting
- those facing redundancies, cuts to              delegates.
pensions, public services and benefits – the
students can be a beacon. They represent          The Committee submitted four motions in
the start of the fightback for all those who      total, two to Congress and two to HE Sector.
asked „Why aren‟t we like the French and          The two Congress motions covered: i) De-
the Greeks?‟. Students have struck a chord        professionalisation of services which support
as Cameron tells us „we‟re all in it together „   learning, teaching and research (motion 5)
whilst his cabinet stuffed full of multi-         and; ii) Outsourcing of IT and data privacy
millionaires lowers corporation tax, the          (motion 82). The HE sector conference
heads of the FTSE 100 have given                  motions covered: i) Promotion and
themselves a 55% pay rise and                     professional development for academic
multinationals and the super rich get away

                              Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 5
related staff (motion HE21) and ii) Hidden       those motions that AR Staff Committee could
and mental health discrimination (HE41).         amend but she died sadly before Congress
                                                 and we did (and do) miss her.
All motions were successful and carried with
a healthy majority.                              I would like to thank the members of AR
                                                 Staff Committee and wider AR Staff
In addition we submitted amendments              community who „stepped up to the plate‟ to
(again successfully adopted) to other            ensure that all the motions and amendments
motions related to points based immigration      had a speaker and that they were carried.
(Congress 61); attendance at work during
inclement weather and travel disruptions         Patricia Hulme, Nottingham University and
(Congress 92); and staff reductions and          Chair, Academic Related Committee
protection of workloads (HE23).
For full texts of motions adopted see:                              Outsourcing of key university services,
                                                 including library services and IT, is of
As in previous years the Committee hosted a      continuing concern to academic related staff
fringe meeting, this year our topic was          in higher education. This affects our staff
“outsourcing and privatisation”. Our primary     directly and also poses serious risks in terms
speakers were Professor Dexter Whitfield,        of cost (often outweighing short term gain),
Director of the European Services Strategy       data protection and privacy (particularly in
Unit – who has written extensively about         relation to IT services) and a general de-
Outsourcing and Privatisation - and Jonathan     professionalisation of work of vital
White, Deputy Head of Campaigns at UCU.          importance to the academic team, resulting
Even though we were vying for delegates          often in a decline in the quality of services
with high profile fringe meetings it was         available to staff and students. A UCU survey
incredibly well attended. Delegates              earlier this year highlighted the extent to
attending the meeting were not necessarily       which outsourcing is impacting on the
AR staff, given that more and more HE staff      sector. We would welcome more examples
are becoming concerned with issues around        and case studies from academic related
outsourcing and privatisation.                   members on how outsourcing has impacted
                                                 on your institution. Please send any
Personally I would like to thank all the         examples, cases studies and information to
committee members who spoke to motions,          Stefano Fella,
and assisted in the fringe meetings. UCU
staff also worked well to ensure smooth          Role Profiles Revisited
running over the three days and are due a
great debt of thanks.                            Anecdotal evidence suggests that many
                                                 university role profiles for academic-related
I cannot complete this piece without paying      staff do not adequately describe new
tribute to Dorothy Wright (London School of      technology roles, i.e. those for computer and
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), one of the       e-learning staff. And that staff in these areas
Academic Related Staff Committee Vice-           have difficulty getting adequate recognition
Chairs. Dorothy played a large part in           for the complex and detailed knowledge
getting our motions written and in spotting      these roles require. Many have reported

                             Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 6
being under-graded with often unsuccessful       have any such examples of where
efforts to get re-graded on appeal.              performance management systems are
University HR appear to have great difficulty    impacting on academic-related staff in your
understanding what the roles encompass.          institutions, please send them to Stefano
Considerable work has been done elsewhere        Fella, Secretary to the Academic Related
which could be used to update role profiles      Committee;
to reflect actual roles eg SFIAplus (Skills
Framework for the Information Age) in
                                                 Academic Related Staff and Green
conjunction with the British Computer
                                                 Campus management
Society (BCS) - see               The UCU Environmental Conference was held
49. SFIAplus levels have been Hay                on 18 November 2010, and was an
evaluated.                                       opportunity for activists to discuss ways of
                                                 promoting sustainable development and
The Academic Related committee would             carbon reduction at the sector, national and
welcome feedback and comments from               international level. A workshop on promoting
members who have experienced problems or         carbon reduction on University campuses
successes in this area. Please email me          highlighted the need to work together with
directly at                 student representatives and influence
                                                 management. We have a number of
Angi Lamb, Edinburgh University, Academic        academic related members (or potential
Related Committee                                members) working in estates, facilities and
                                                 environmental management, who can make
Performance Management                           a direct impact on the ground and also
                                                 contribute to our environmental work locally
A number of institutions have introduced         and nationally. If you think you can make a
policies on Performance Management –             contribution or have ideas and best practice
particularly in relation to research             to share, please contact UCU‟s
performance – that we regard as                  environmental co-ordinator, Graham
unreasonable and detrimental. Following a        Petersen at
previous request for information we have
received a number of examples of such            See also the UCU environment webpage for
policies in relation to research performance,    more information on our work in this area
and also a few examples of teaching              and for our conference report:
performance management.                

These performance management regimes
also affect academic-related staff, both
indirectly and directly. Indirectly because it
is often the academic-related staff that have
to collate the data and statistics used to
monitor the performance of academic staff,
and directly because academic-related staff
are also being made subject to performance
management regimes themselves. If you

                             Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 7
Dorothy Wright Remembered                       despaired of ever winning anything
                                                significant or achieving contentedness in
Occasionally, very rarely, one meets            work, the union or life in general. She just
someone whose enthusiasm, energy and            could not bring herself to play out a role.
commitment to a cause can be honestly
described as `absolute`. Dorothy Wright         She put this limitation down to her
was a case in point.                            Asperger's syndrome, a condition which also
                                                had the positive effect of inspiring her to
I worked closely with Dorothy on the            campaign on behalf of people with
Academic Related Staff Committee and more       disabilities, in particular hidden ones. In
generally on academic related matters for       private, she would regularly question herself.
many years, and during that time it seemed      Not her fundamental beliefs, which were
that she grew immensely in confidence, to       unshakeable and invariably based on a
the point where her forceful and articulate     deeply-felt sense of humanity, but her ability
contributions to Congress and other union       to make progress toward actualising those
conferences as well as her determined,          beliefs, particularly worrying about her
focussed and thoughtful contributions to the    ability to `understand people`. Underlying
work of the Committee often played a major      her `in-your-face` personality was a
role in driving forward action on behalf of     vulnerability which arose from the mismatch
academic related staff. She also built the      between her ideals and beliefs and the world
union at the London School of Hygiene and       she had to deal with.
Tropical Medicine, and played an active role
in UCU‟s London Region.                         This made it difficult for her to accept or
                                                believe how significant her contribution was,
She would often be frustrated by the barriers   and I don‟t think she had any idea how much
she felt she (we) faced, sometimes              that contribution was appreciated by her
perceiving deliberate obfuscation by `union     colleagues.
bureaucrats`, and often confronting
managers head-on, often disappointed to the     Even when she was at odds with someone in
point of distress when progress was difficult   an internal union debate, at the same time
to achieve because of real or perceived         as fighting her corner (which was almost
entrenched interests. She would never           always the right one!) she would often
hesitate to take on any issue about which       express her dislike of having to argue with
she felt strongly, and those responsible for    someone she liked on a personal level. This
her frustration or anger would have to be       depth of humanity was something many
prepared to face the consequences, and had      people around her admired, even found
better be able to justify themselves.           inspirational. Sadly the ideals on which it
                                                was based were something she mistakenly
However, in dealing with people who could       believed she couldn‟t live up to herself.
be manipulative and downright nasty, but
were outwardly successful and content, she      Nick James, Academic Related Committee
refused to stoop to that level herself and so   (with thanks to Geoff Williams)

                            Academic related NEWS Autumn 2010 8

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