Vision for Roehampton
Vision for Roehampton is a grassroots campaign organized by members of the UCU Roehampton branch.
We are determined to actively counter the vision for the future of the University of Roehampton that is emerging from the measures announced by management in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, including proposals to cut pay for academics and professional staff, and a severance scheme.
While we acknowledge that the current crisis severely affects the Higher Education sector, we believe that attacking the livelihoods of staff members, with the drastic changes proposed by management and happening at a dizzying pace, will damage the sustainability and quality of our teaching and of the students’ learning experience.
We believe that a different approach to the current global crisis is possible and desirable, and we are keen to develop an affirmative, radical and collective vision for the future of Roehampton.
We demand that management does not turn this crisis into a disaster, and use it instead as an opportunity to tackle structural inequalities that have characterized the sector of Higher Education for a long time.
This website documents the actions we are developing to actively construct a radical alternative model for a fairer, more democratic and sustainable university.
• We strive for a long-term sustainable future for education which is open to all. We aim to strengthen solidarity between staff and students, which corporate led management of universities has consistently tried to break over the last decade in the UK.
• Our campaign works to advance principles of equality and anti-racism, and stands in solidarity with casualised workers, aiming to tackle exploitative practices and outsourcing for the lowest paid among the workers contributing to Higher Education.
• We aim to connect our campaign for fair working conditions with struggles across the sector, including not only academics, but also cleaners, administrative and professional staff, who are likewise threatened by increasingly exploitative practices as a result of marketisation.
• We are calling for a future emancipated from the burdens of debt and the culture of fear that has haunted our universities for too long.
You can support our campaign by:
Using the 6:1 #FairPay logo and Zoom background (see 'Fair Pay' section and 'Blog');
Reading the documents we will regularly upload to share our collective efforts to advance an alternative vision for the future of Higher Education;
GETTING INVOLVED! Please contact us at
Join the Fight for Higher Education: Stand with Roehampton!
On 4 May 2020, a brutal assault on Higher Education began when the University of Roehampton announced aggressive proposals to cut jobs with the launch of a severance scheme and - significantly - a proposal to cut pay for academics and professional staff from 1st August.
Subsequently there has been a further attack on our working conditions with the announcement of increases in academic workloads and the suspension of research sabbaticals. This has occurred whilst staff are continuing to deliver high quality teaching and exceptional research, as well as rapidly develop new programmes to help increase university income during the pandemic.
To date, details of the university’s plan for socially distanced teaching have not been clarified, but additional labour will certainly be required to adapt our programmes. In the given context, it is clear that any cuts would be unsustainable, unfair, and would have a damaging impact on the quality of teaching and research in the university, as well as on staff health and student satisfaction.
We already know that universities are capitalising on the good will of staff, their dedication to students, and their willingness to work well beyond contracted hours, which makes these moves to undermine collective solidarity, security, and support particularly egregious.
We also know that the most vulnerable among us are now facing a double attack arising from the pandemic, as well as the marketisation of tertiary education: temporary and casualised workers, migrants, disabled, women and BAME staff and students will be the most affected by cuts.
Meanwhile, the highest salaries and the proportion of senior management continues to balloon. This is undeniably problematic in the context of dwindling resources.
The marketisation of HE continues to play a significant role in the situation that universities now find themselves. Post-92 universities like Roehampton represent a key dimension of this increasingly challenging marketplace, particularly as the government seems to pursue ideological shifts driven by ill-informed notions of vocational skill and inappropriate assessments of ‘value for money’. These moves would amplify inequalities for staff and students, including those arising from the widening stratification of teaching and research.
Although University of Roehampton may have been the first university in the UK to launch a severance scheme and pay cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic, we will not be the last. Other institutions are already confronting similar measures, and it is likely that we are seeing the beginning of a new wave of attacks to the sector, which sooner or later will have a devastating consequence for every university in the country. Staff working in tertiary education are already over-stretched, demonstrated by the nation-wide strikes for academic pay and workload across 2019 and 2020. We must not acquiesce to unsustainable demands to work more for less money, with nothing offered in return.
It is time to stand together and fight for Higher Education in times of global crisis and collective vulnerability. It is time to protect the heart of universities, and their frontliners - students and staff - to ensure that we support students' achievements and secure academic standards.
We are reaching out to the public and to union branches to support our following demands:
• Meaningful two-way consultations with staff and students, and full financial disclosure with the recognised trade union negotiators.
• Guarantee that management will not push staff to leave the national pay spine, which would undermine their collective position.
• Exhaustive exploration and outline of alternatives to the voluntary severance scheme, proposed pay cuts and any future redundancies, to be shared swiftly and in full with staff
• Comprehensive assessment of the detrimental impact of the voluntary severance scheme and proposed pay cuts on teaching and research, including equality impact, and workload modelling which takes into account socially distanced delivery.
• Reverse changes to workload and sabbatical policies, and negotiate fair and sustainable workload and research policies with the unions before the new academic year.
• Commit to implementing a long-term 1:6 maximum pay ratio - meaning that no one in the university earns more than six times the salary of its lowest-paid full-time employee (currently £20,402 with London weighting).
• Issue a response to all staff, students and unions within 5 working days of receipt of this letter.
Staff at the University of Roehampton are among the first hit, but unfortunately won’t be the last; this attack will spread rapidly and will impact all universities. Now is the time to unite, be vocal and formulate a national response to this attack on public education.
While University of Roehampton management have said staff cuts are required at this time, we do not accept this narrative. On 15 May members of UCU Roehampton and Vision for Roehampton published a financial analysis paper written to help colleagues understand the backdrop for the proposed cuts. This detailed document can be accessed via our Blog page (see 'Financial Counter-Narrative' post).
Since the beginning of May our grassroots campaign has been working in dialogue with the UCU Roehampton branch and colleagues about the future of our university. We have fed into a collectively agreed proposal, which management received on 4 June 2020 but have not yet responded to.
Our contribution has been to elaborate a series of amendments to a motion presented by UCU members, that proposed to transform the announced pay cuts into pay loans, according to a stakeholders’ model. We suggest a transformation of the stakeholders’ model into a cooperative model, with conditions on changes to governance structure, sustainability and commitment to equalities, teaching and innovation, workload, casualization and the protection of intellectual labour, especially urgent in the uncertain present and future of global crisis, vulnerability and socially distanced teaching and learning.
The amended motion which you can read in full here, was enthusiastically passed, therefore supporting the binding of any agreement of pay loans to a series of conditions that radically raise the stakes of our demands for the future of Roehampton.
Our view is that if we are asking to partake in decisions-making about our university, we should put forward no less than a radical, expansive and ambitious vision, one that does not simply respond to the undesirable conditions sketched out by management with no transparency nor margins of dialogue with the recognised trade unions, but that is affirmative and positively looking forward to collectively building the university we want to inhabit.
The amended motion is offered here as a possible example for union branches to apply during negotiations, and which serves as a members-led initiative working horizontally to broaden, strengthen and enhance possibilities of dialogue and cooperation within the union.
We are also happy to recognise many of the principles we advanced in our proposal as core demands of the UCU campaign ‘Fund the Future’, launched on Friday June 12, and presented by Jo Grady to Roehampton UCU members in the branch meeting she took part in on June 10: a campaign demanding that universities’ response to the current crisis prioritise and protect the livelihoods of staff.
In addition to showing support and solidarity to our local fight, and further connect it with the initiative UCU is advancing on a national level, Jo Grady has publicly endorsed our vision emerging from the motion voted by the majority of members, and demanding a more fair, democratic and sustainable future for Higher Education.
Ballooning high pay for senior managers and undemocratic decision-making that prioritises impressive and costly buildings over fair pay for staff, continue to jeopardise Higher Education. As part of our public campaign Join the Fight for Higher Education: Stand with Roehampton, the Roehampton UCU branch is calling for an action of solidarity to give visibility to one of the core demands in our petition: that management commit to implementing a long-term 6:1 maximum pay ratio, meaning that no one in the university is paid more than six times the salary of its lowest-paid full-time employee.
This is a first step to address the profound inequalities characterizing working conditions in HE, that also include the massive outsourcing of casualised workers, with whom we must continue to stand in solidarity.
For the next two weeks, please use the logo 6:1#FairPayHE as your profile picture on social media, as background in your online meetings, as footer in your emails. Please share it widely, and help us give visibility to this important step in reclaiming fair pay and a more democratic future for Higher Education.
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