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,

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

City UCU is on Facebook

City’s UCU branch has set up a Facebook page for members to share news and events, and keep in touch with each other.

If you are on Facebook, like our page or add a post at

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.

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 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

The (further) Marketization of HE

In November the Government published the Green Paper, Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice. This, along with changes announced by George Osborne in the Spending Review are widely seen as heralding a root and branch transformation of Higher Education. This transformation has several aims.

A government priority is to pave the way for new entrants into the sector, including existing global for-profit providers, such as the Apollo group, by lowering the threshold for entry. The US experience (see for instance The Harkin Report) shows that the entry of for-profit providers is especially harmful for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are most likely to succumb to the aggressive marketing that is used by these organisations and enrol in unsuitable courses, after which they are left encumbered by debt that they cannot pay off. As this debt is underwritten by the state this situation is lose-lose. For-profit universities are equally disregarding of their staff, with lecturers paid for teaching only, often working remotely seeing neither students nor colleagues. None are given research time.

To facilitate new entrants into the sector the government is determined to make it easier for existing institutions and departments to fail, with an entire section of the Green Paper devoted to ‘Provider exit and student protection’. In the government’s words (p.54):

In a changing and more competitive sector, providers that innovate and present a more compelling value proposition to students will be able to increase their share of total students – in some cases this may be at the expense of other institutions.

Continuing to support providers that are struggling is undesirable for various reasons. Difficulty attracting students or poor quality provision would not be in the long term interest of students, and could damage the reputation of the sector. Removing provision may indeed lead to it being replaced by higher quality provision.

If university exit has thus far been frustratingly difficult for the government to achieve, the new Teaching Excellence Framework (or TEF) has been designed to change this. Despite its name, as currently conceived the TEF is not a measure of teaching, but of a range of somewhat cobbled together ‘metrics’. In the first instance these are likely to include employment and earnings at six months post-graduation, retention and continuation and student satisfaction (see Mark Leach’s visual guide to the TEF). Universities will also be required to meet widening participation criteria. Success in the TEF will allow universities to raise fees (albeit within limits); failure will constrain this, and threaten the viability of courses, and ultimately institutions.

The objections to this crude process are manifold and many have been well rehearsed. For instance, earnings are only marginally related to teaching or anything else that a University does, and much more strongly related to a range of other things, including social networks formed before as well as during university (various criticisms of using graduate ‘outcomes’ is outlined here). Similarly student satisfaction, as currently measured by the NSS rarely highlights important quality differences. For instance a report for HEFCE suggested that ‘in most cases, the differences between whole institutions are so small as to be statistically and practically insignificant’ (p.4). Once the NSS (in its current or revised form) feeds TEF it is likely that small (insignificant) differences will be of increasing consequence, triggering ever more panicked management responses. Moreover, as the TEF develops and the measures used are ‘refined’ it is likely that, as happened with the REF, the bureaucratic burden will increase, requiring increasing organisational resources and staff time.

While the prioritisation of widening student participation is welcomed, the lack of any resources to achieve this is notable. Instead George Osborne’s Spending Review cut approximately £380 million currently set aside as ‘Student Opportunity Funding’ targeted at disabled and the poorest students. In this context it is likely to be much easier for institutions with otherwise privileged students to funnel resources towards a small cohort of ‘widening participation’ students, ensuring their success, than it will be for universities with large numbers of working class students all calling on limited resources.

Meanwhile for those whose primary concern is research, the Spending Review was equally worrying. Building on the Nurse Review the proposal is that an overarching body is created Research UK (RUK) to replace the various research councils. This body will operate with much closer links to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and with ministerial priorities. This is already apparent in the ring-fencing of 1.5 billion research funding for ‘Global Challenges’. While this may not concern you if your research fits within government priorities (although what these are remains somewhat unclear), it is likely to herald serious cuts to public funding for arts, humanities and (critical) social science. In the longer term it poses a threat to academic freedom.

Other changes, not discussed above, will have a huge if not yet fully defined impact on particular departments or disciplines. For instance the removal of grants for nursing students and their replacement with loans and an unregulated market.

So, what will that mean for us at City? The first thing is that since none of these plans are fully fleshed out, in the immediate future it will produce uncertainty. Senior managers at City and elsewhere are desperately trying to position themselves in what they think will be the new market. But in lieu of any concrete evidence of what success will require, this amounts to little more than rearranging the deck-chairs.

Past experience suggests, however, that these changes are likely to ramp up the pressures on us all to be ‘excellent’ in ever-expanding ways, since in a marketized HE sector the costs of ‘failure’ will be greater. This may mean that we are held responsible for things that are largely outside our control – for ensuring excellent NSS outcomes, for student ‘employability’ (notwithstanding cuts to the Careers service), for chasing harder after ever-diminishing pots of research funding. In this context we need to be vigilant about resisting further performance management (such as management’s inappropriate use of the ARQM).

As a union we must also reassert the value of higher education and of research, whether or not this fits with the government’s short-term priorities.


We will be posting further updates to this blog and encourage members to contribute, for instance by sending us their experiences or commentary.


We encourage City UCU members to register to attend The Second Convention for Higher Education on ‘The HE Green Paper: The Threat to the Public University …and what we can do about it’ at UCL on Saturday 27th February.


Recommended Further Reading:

John Holmwood’s ‘Slouching towards the market

Charles Kowalski’s ‘Not learning from error: Teaching Excellence Failure

THE The higher education Green Paper: Everything you need to know

UCU (brief) response to the Spending Review

Athena SWAN and staff representation groups

After the university’s unsuccessful Athena SWAN application the Gender Equalities Working Group (GEWG) has been set up. Two members of the UCU committee along with other members of staff sit on this group.

We would encourage all members of staff to consider joining one of several staff groups, such as:

  • The LGBT+ group, which is active at City. Several UCU members attend the group’s meetings
  • The BME network, which meets tomorrow
  • The Staff Disability Network
  • Women @ City

For details check the City website