Last week saw what can only be described as a rather chaotic UCU Congress (University and College Union). We are no experts on UK Unions, however one union blocking another union's members voting (or even discussing) a tabled motion seems undemocratic. The motions were in part to discuss a no confidence vote in the UCU General Sec, who happens to be a member of Unite. Since this is academic's trying to debate whether or not their union is serving their best interests, it's in our arena.
Republished under Creative Commons licence, perhaps more as the authors intended. We will post a separate response from Exeter should they ask.
Here at AFW we are are interested in social media policies and how they are being used by Universities. Or perhaps miss-used. If you have evidence that these policies are being used to infringe on academic freedom of either staff or students, and would like to share, get in touch!
Some of the policies (some PDFs attached below):
Much more documentation and detail on the voluntary severance scheme underway at Liverpool university.
Files attached below!
Further details, in the form of a series of emails, have emerged about the University of Liverpool Voluntary Severance scheme. Including emails about the scheme to staff from the Liverpool VC and Senior Management, and both initial and then later statements from UCU. Would appear that UCU were not consulted or informed beforehand.
PDF files of the emails are attached below.
In a climate where engagement with issues around the future of higher education, or striking for the protection of employee rights, pensions, or academic freedom, could be seen as 'being difficult'. Or where being active on social mean could lead to being on the wrong end of a disrepute clause in a policy or contract. Conversations around voluntary severance are all the more problematic. Make sure you know what is at stake before having a 'chat'.
Attached is guidance to deans at Liverpool Uni and a preface issued by UCU.
Universities are updating their (or implementing) social media policies to limit the ability for academics to express their personal views on platforms such as Twitter. For example it would be particularly difficult for an academic to criticize their own employer. Such as in the case of the recent USSStrike activities, and the positions that different universities took. What is more, engagement with any debate that could be viewed to be controversial (however legitimate) might be used as grounds for disciplinary action or ultimately dismissal.
On Friday March 9 2018, the Vice Chancellor at University of Exeter communicated with staff his position on the pensions dispute, after a week or so of strike action [attached].
Two new releases of material relevant to the pensions dispute.
One: TPR Letter from the Pensions Regulator to David Eastwood, Chair of USS Limited (the USS trustee company), 15 September 2017, regarding the 31 March 2017 USS Actuarial Valuation methodology and the strength of the employer covenant.
AHUA Spring conference was held in April 2018 at the University of Manchester in the UK. Titled "Opportunities and Challenges in a Changing World" the third session focuses on academic performance. The first speakers in this session where David Browne and Tom Long of consultancy Shakespeare Martineau. David and Tom seem to have a problem with "the thorny issue of academic freedom" and whistleblowing. See the quote below.