A view of Higher Education in the EU

A post by John Saunders, first of two posts in which City UCU members explain their position on the EU referendum.

Map produced by Daniel Feher http://www.freeworldmaps.net/printable/europe/

© Daniel Feher http://www.freeworldmaps.net/printable/europe/

Let’s stay where we belong, in Europe as Europeans
My reasons for wanting the UK to remain in the EU are probably more emotional than rational. To me international cooperation is preferable to being an isolated little Englander and the EU is one way of embracing this. Collectively the European nations have provided opportunities for regeneration, improving human rights, workers’ rights and equality as well as broadening students’ education and encouraging research partnerships. The EU is not a perfect institution, but as a member, the UK both benefits and has the opportunity to make improvements. Outside the EU, we are a go-it-alone country (possibly without Scotland) but still at the whim of global forces.

Higher Education
Let’s leave aside the arguments about sovereignty and economics and focus on the benefits of working across European borders to our staff and students? Much of what follows has been taken from the Complete University Guide website and their paper “EU Referendum – How does the European Union affect universities and students?

Staff and students from the EU
Large numbers of staff at UK universities, both academics and others, come from the EU; in some institutions 20% or more. This surely broadens the experience of both students and staff. Nearly 10% of City’s students come from the non UK EU and a recent study suggests that generally non UK EU students are high achievers.

Research grants and partnerships
The EU makes substantial financial contributions to research in UK universities; this is estimated to be close to £1b per year. This contribution continues to increase and in some cases the EU’s share of a university’s income is very substantial (as much as 15%).

Funding from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) is allocated on the basis of research excellence and UK-based research has thus far secured over 20% of all funds disbursed. Four British institutions were among the 10 most successful recipients. Hence we can argue that the quality of UK research benefits from international contacts in both Europe and elsewhere. EU membership has encouraged the UK to be part of global teams of researchers and has fostered productive collaborations beyond the English-speaking world. As we learnt from the REF a higher quality of research is often associated with its international impact. Our position in Europe has allowed the UK to punch way above its weight in this area, both in terms of income and the world’s most highly-cited scientific research publications. We need to think carefully before putting our European and other international partnerships at risk.

The EU’s freedoms of movement rules simplify the process of studying abroad for both UK and EU students. The Erasmus scheme, a student exchange programme operating since 1987, offers students in the UK and Europe a chance to study across the continent. At any given time, several thousands of students are involved in the Erasmus programme and, over time, hundreds of thousands of UK students have studied at European universities.

One cannot claim that if the UK left the EU, our students and staff would lose the benefits of international cooperation. But inside the EU we share in structures, resources and goodwill that encourage and support collaboration across EU member states and beyond. Leaving the EU is unlikely to improve, and could weaken, these opportunities.

EU – in or out?

Last Tuesday the branch held its AGM and the minutes of this meeting will be available shortly, along with the details of our new branch committee for 2016/17.

At the meeting, debate centred on the upcoming EU referendum, with a motion put forward to encourage members to a) vote and b) support the IN campaign. It was noted that there is no official UCU position on the EU referendum, although other unions have given public support for either the in or out campaigns. The conclusion of the debate was to allow two members, in their capacity as individuals, to state their case on this blog. Their posts follow!

Strike: tomorrow: details and resources

Close Gender Pay Gap

Tomorrow and on Thursday all UCU members will be on strike to win fair and equal pay for all, close the gender pay gap and bring an end to casualisation.

You can download copies of posters and leaflets we will be distributing on the day below.

Details for both days

Wednesday 25th
Gender Pay Equality Day
We will be picketing University entrances from 7.30am. Let us know when and where you can picket here.

11.30am: assemble with other local universities at Northampton Square

12.00pm: march to a rally outside UCEA Headquarters in Tavistock Square

1.30pm: march to Conway Hall

2.30pm: meeting at Conway Hall with top speakers

Thursday 26th
Anti-Casualisation Day
Again we will be picketing University entrances from 7.30pm.

1pm: rally outside London Met Tower Building, Holloway Road



statistics flyer

studentship flyer


A convincing ballot result means all UCU members in HE will be on strike on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th May. 65% of votes supported strike action and 78% supported action short of a strike.

We will also be working to contract from 25th May.

See you on the picket lines! City UCU members are asked to sign up here to tell us when and where you can picket. This information is used by the Branch Committee for planning only.

Annual General Meeting, 7 June 2016

City UCU’s Annual General Meeting takes place on Tuesday 7th June at 5pm in the Northampton Suite.

After the meeting we will be holding a drinks reception, also in the Northampton Suite.

As in previous years the meeting will be held in two parts. The first part will be an open meeting and a chance for UCU members and other staff to discuss the year at City. The second part will be a closed meeting for UCU members and will include the election of the branch committee for 2016/17.

All posts are up for election, including that of the Branch President. Keith Simpson will be stepping down this year after five years as the President, and the committee is delighted that Rebecca Lewis is standing for election. Nominations are open for all other posts and close at 5pm on Tuesday 31st May:

Branch President
Leads on all the branch’s union- and employment-related work. Chairs committee and branch meetings. Acts on behalf of the committee

Vice-President (x 2)
Deputises and takes on duties in the absence of the President

Branch Secretary
Calls meetings of the branch and of the committee; circulates minutes of meetings; organises membership communications; arranges branch elections and ballot results

Assistant Secretary
Deputises for the Secretary

Membership Secretary
Responsible for recruitment, keeping membership records, and sending membership information to UCU head office


Has custody of the branch’s funds and makes payments on behalf of the branch; prepares the accounts of the branch ahead of each AGM

Health and Safety Officer (x 2)
Represents UCU members on all aspects of health and safety; undertakes health and safety inspections at the university; attends health and safety committee meetings; acts as the branch’s point of contact for health and safety matters

Equalities Officer
Monitors casework relating to equalities issues; stays up-to-date with equalities policies in the university; represents the branch at equalities meetings

Postgraduate Students Officer (x 2)
Leads the branch’s work to represent and engage with postgraduate and research students. Is the primary point of contact for student members, the Students’ Union and UCU head office in relation to postgraduate student matters

Committee Member (x 6)
Sits on the committee and participates on the branch’s work in all of the above areas

To stand for election, members must be nominated by a fellow member and the nomination must be seconded. Nominations must be sent to the Returning Officer, R.J.McPeake@city.ac.uk.

VISION:IMPOSSIBLE All staff meeting

What do you think about the University’s strategy of cutting jobs now to borrow more money in the future?


Having been through ZBR, PSR1, and PSR2*, we are now faced with PSR3 the Annual Professional Services Planning Round – meaning more cuts, more redundancies, more work for those left behind.



B103 1-2PM

 * ZBR = “Zero-Based Review”, 2011
PSR = “Professional Services Review”, Part 1 2013; Part 2 2015

International Women’s Day – Gender Equality at City University London

City University London UCU wish to congratulate all those staff taking part in events to celebrate International Women’s day and urge staff to try and attend if possible. http://www.city.ac.uk/international-womens-day/events-celebrating-iwd

The origins of International Women’s Day lay with the trade union movement, in particular March 8, 1857, when garment workers in New York City marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day, and equal rights for women. Their ranks were broken up by the police. Fifty-one years later, March 8, 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again, honouring the 1857 march, demanding the vote, and an end to sweatshops and child labour. The police were present on this occasion too. The trade unions and labour movement in the United Kingdom have been fundamental in fighting for equal pay and rights for women embodied in the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts of the 1960’s and 70’s through to the Equality Act 2010.

Unfortunately we still have a long way to go. Today the UCU unveil the real issues around the gender pay gap in Higher Education and Further Education institutions.


At City University we face real challenges. Sadly, City tops the league table for the highest professorial gender pay gap of all Universities in the United Kingdom with a £15,992 difference between male and female professors (Female salary as % of male = 83.6).

For academic-related staff we also have a way to travel; standing at number 12 in the league table with a gender pay gap of 5.2% (£2,383).

The UCU continues to argue at the University Equality Committee and the Athena Swan Gender Equality Working Group that the university needs to prioritise this issue and make a firm commitment to eradicate gender pay inequality.

UCU will be writing to the Vice-Chancellor requesting that we agree a joint statement of intent to close any gender pay gap at City University London by 2020.

See https://www.ucu.org.uk/iwd for information on UCU’s campaigns for International Women’s Day.

Bursaries or Bust!

We were proud to stand alongside students in Nursing and Allied Health Professions yesterday, as they walked out in support of the Junior Doctors’ strike and in protest against cuts to student bursaries.

Let’s keep the pressure on to show Hunt the damage he will do to the NHS!

Demonstrating in Northampton Square