16th April 2015
Last night, Max Watson, on behalf of London Met Unison, and myself, on behalf of London Met UCU, debated the Vice-Chancellor, at the invitation of London Met SU Student Council.
The student-only meeting was very well attended – but unfortunately, not by enough actual student council voting members, so they were unable to take a valid quorate vote to support our campaign of fighting the proposed 165 job cuts. However, it was very clear from the reaction to the three presentations, and the subsequent Q&A session, that the meeting overwhelmingly supported our fight for the future of our university, our jobs, and our students future – noting the three were essentially indivisible. However, please see the next post for an incredibly important open letter initiative – taken by some of those Student Council members present, that has just been launched in our support against the job cuts, that you may wish to point interested students to.
One interesting point of note from the debate itself was that the Vice-Chancellor went on record to state that he had come to the conclusion that UCU were correct in that the university was far too management top heavy – Max and myself had just pointed out that just six members of the SMT (Senior Management Team) – the VC included, were paid a combined annual salary of close to £1M – enough for 20 Senior Lecturers at the top of the scale, or some 40 essential frontline administrative staff.
He then stated that he accepted the need to reduce the heavy management layering and he’d be putting such in his soon to be released, and long waited, White Paper.
At that point, I suggested that he therefore should call an immediate halt to the current S188 redundancies and enter talks with the unions at how best to protect frontline academic and administrative staff while doing such de-managering. Unfortunately, he was then silent on that point.
We also pointed out that of his favoured “London benchmark” comparator of SSR universities – Westminster, South Bank, UWL, and UEL, that the following was happening:
Westminster have announced a strategy to improve their position in the league tables by moving away from their average SSR of 20.1 to 18.0 (remember, the VCs current strategy is to move us from 21.5 to 25.0) by hiring more academic staff;
South Bank have recently moved to reduce their management structure by moving from a top-heavy faculty structure back down to schools. It is also worth adding, they have a local version of the post-92 contract in operation that limits the maximum weekly FST (Formal Scheduled Teaching) to 15 hours/week rather than the absolute contractual maximum in force at London Met of 18 hours/week.
UWL has a lower average SSR than we do and they have no plan to reduce their position in the university league tables by increasing it.
And finally, UEL, the one outrider that has by far the worst (highest SSR) in the sector, has just – last week, recorded the significant disadvantage of being placed below London Met at the very bottom of the Times Higher Education’s ‘Student Experience Survey’ – having dropped 10 places since last year on the back of a strategy the VC seems keen to follow.
Mark Campbell, London Met UCU (Chair)
On behalf of the London Met UCU Coordinating Committee