Vision for Roehampton
Cuts at University of Roehampton will 'damage cultural diversity' say over 60 cultural leaders including Vanessa Redgrave, Hilary Mantel, Simon Schama, Toby Jones, Julie Christie, Cornelia Parker and Brian Eno in a powerful open letter to Vice-Chancellor Jean-Noël Ezingeard, published in Times Higher Education.
Details of the incredibly powerful student campaign Roe Students Saving Arts and Humanities (@RoeSSAH) can be found at their website here.
Please follow the Twitter hashtag #SaveUoRAH.
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 cutting staff jobs and pay, and proposals to decimate the arts and humanities at the university.
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, has already damaged 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 continue on their path to 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:
Engaging with our campaigns, petitions, and twitter @VRoehampton #SaveUoRAH
Using the 6:1 #FairPay logo and Zoom background;
Reading our analysis documents we upload ('Blog' section) 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
In our first phase of campaigning since May 2020, we asked the public to 'Join the Fight for Higher Education: Stand with Roehampton!' in response to pay cuts and redundancies. As was reported in Times Higher Education, Roehampton was the 'first UK university to announce crisis job severances'.
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’. Cuts to university staff pursued by senior management would amplify inequalities for staff and students, including those arising from the widening stratification of teaching and research.
We asked colleagues and students in the UK and beyond, and the public, to stand together and fight for Higher Education in times of global crisis and collective vulnerability. Our demands were for senior management to engage in meaningful two-way consultation, commit to upholding the nationally agreed pay spine, to properly explore alternatives to cuts, assess detrimental impacts on teaching, research, and equality at the university, to reinstate research sabbaticals and agree fair policies with UCU, and 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.
We undertook carefully evidenced research using public information to demonstrate the context of new Vice-Chancellor Jean-Noël Ezingeard's attacks on jobs and damaging corporate strategy. Spiralling pay at the top, widening inequality, investment in buildings over people, and undemocratic decision-making are the backdrop for these destructive decisions. Download our financial analysis in our 'Blog' section or click this link here.
We asked colleagues nationally and internationally to use our 1:6 pay logo as Zoom backgrounds and Facebook profile pictures to create a visual reminder of pay inequality with the increasing marketisation of higher education. See 'Downloads' and 'Fair Pay' section.
Our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @VRoehampton showed there was strong support for our campaign nationally and internationally. Our materials were supported by UCU general secretary Jo Grady, and publicised by the Council for the Defence of British Universities.
Roehampton UCU members are currently in dispute with the university over proposed cuts and deteriorating working conditions.
THE CUTS INTENSIFY: SAVE THE ARTS & HUMANITIES
Over 60 cultural leaders including Vanessa Redgrave, Hilary Mantel, Brian Eno, and Toby Jones 'slam' cuts to the arts at University of Roehampton which will damage cultural diversity, as reported in the Times Higher Education. Their powerful open letter is published here.
The current phase of campaigning is responding to the intensified focus of the attacks on jobs, now targeting the arts and humanities specifically. The arts and humanities are being asked to make £3.2million in salary savings alone this year, which affects Classics; Cultural Studies; English & Creative Writing; Dance; Drama, Theatre & Performance; History; Linguistics; Media Studies; Modern Languages; Philosophy; and Theology.
Vice-Chancellor Jean-Noël Ezingeard seems intent on destroying these subjects at Roehampton, despite repeatedly claiming to understand that they form the heart of the university. In October 2020 a 'consultation document' was circulated to staff which proposed staff would be cut by a third (in some subject areas, even halved) based on crude and inappropriate assessments of staff-student ratio. This directly discriminated against subject areas which do not teach in large lectures, and the document did not demonstrate any engagement with other forms of value including research, community or public engagement. Indeed, departments targeted for compulsory redundancy by Spring 2021 are among the highest performers of the university in research and student feedback. Staff and students were shocked by this drastic proposal, particularly after many staff had agreed voluntarily to take a pay cut in an extraordinary show of commitment to the shared community of the university. Despite this (and having already betrayed those staff whose salaries were taken through pay cuts), Ezingeard's announcement signified increased intent on cutting staff, citing a vague desire to 'rebalance' the university. Indeed, this may explain why the University is advertising numerous new posts in other subjects, and hiring new teams including those for new vocational programmes at the same time as cutting arts and humanities staff.
This is an attack on the arts and humanities that is about more than just Roehampton. It is about access to these subjects for all, and how they are invaluable to society as drivers of culture and humanness. We need the arts and humanities more than ever, and must fund them during this time of crisis. Even the Conservative government has at least committed to some funding and subsidisation for the arts as incredibly valuable to society, but Ezingeard's drastic proposed cuts will decimate the long-term future of these subjects at Roehampton. This is a loss not only for staff but also the mostly first generation, working class, and/or black, Asian, and minority ethnic students who access these subjects at our university.
A change.org petition to save the arts and humanities at Roehampton was approaching 10,000 signatures at the time of writing. Please support our struggle by signing and sharing https://www.change.org/p/university-of-roehampton-stop-3-2-million-cuts-to-arts-humanities-at-university-of-roehampton
Please follow #SaveUoRAH hashtag activity on Twitter, as well as our friends in the student-led campaign Roehampton Students Saving Arts and Humanities @RoeSSAH
An Open letter of over 60 cultural leaders including Vanessa Redgrave, Hilary Mantel, and Brian Eno urge Vice-Chancellor Jean-Noël Ezingeard not to make cuts to the arts and humanities at University of Roehampton, as doing so would 'damage cultural diversity'. Their powerful open letter, which as Times Higher Education reported, 'slams' Ezingeard's proposed cuts, can be read here.
Historian Simon Schama, the Oral History Society, the Women's Classical Committee, artist Tim Etchells, and Roehampton's own Pro Chancellor renowned choreographer Akram Khan have already supported our struggle via social media and in numerous letters from staff, students, colleagues and publics.
Simon Schama wrote: '#SaveUoRAH appalled and depressed by U of Roehampton's proposed massive cuts to arts and humanities. Why are they always the sacrificial lambs when they are the fountainhead of the creative industries which are the great success story of UK?'
Akram Khan called the cuts 'unconscionable' and is 'at a loss' as Roehampton appeared to be attempting to 'cut the very thing that challenges, guides, nourishes'.
The Women's Classical Committee wrote of the 'devastating effect' the cuts would have in contributing 'to the exclusion of traditionally under-represented members of society from participating in the arts and creative industries'.
The Stage newspaper reported on the 'irrevocable damage' the cuts would cause.
Siobhan Davies Dance wrote of how Roehampton 'plays a huge role in our community & history' and that 'we need creative minds'.
Tim Etchells wrote of the 'staggering, terrible decision' to cut arts and humanities at Roehampton.
On 21 October 2020 at a Roehampton UCU emergency meeting members voted 88% in favour of a motion of no confidence in Vice-Chancellor Jean-Noël Ezingeard and Provost Anna Gough-Yates; they also voted overwhelmingly in favour to review whether senior management presented value for money in proposing these cuts, and the damage they do to the university while earning in excess of £200k; and for a consultative ballot for industrial action.
University of Roehampton Students' Union Council vote overwhelmingly to oppose cuts, as reported in SWLondoner newspaper. Students, led by the powerful campaign Roehampton Students Saving Arts and Humanities (@RoeSSAH), win vote opposing cuts to the arts: “We’re really proud of our university and we want to protect it”.
Please show your support @VRoehampton, publicise and resist these cuts! #SaveUoRAH
FIGHTING CUTS AT ROEHAMPTON BACKGROUND
On 4 May 2020 University of Roehampton senior management (led by new Vice-Chancellor Jean-Noël Ezingeard) 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. These announcements, as reported in Times Higher Education, came at a time when staff were already working overtime to cope with dramatically increased workload and support students through the rapidly changing, stressful and unprecedented context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We fought these cuts. A petition gained thousands of signatures. Despite attempts by management to withhold or delay giving full information from both staff and Roehampton UCU over a period of months, our campaign gathered public information which countered the need for any cuts, showing how damaging they would be, and their long-term negative impacts on the university and intellectual life in the UK. Analysis suggested the university seemed to value buildings and corporate investments over the staff who, together with the students, make up the university. The cuts at Roehampton led by Jean-Noël Ezingeard reflect the creeping influence of corporate and undemocratic top-down ideologies of what universities are and how they should be run. You can find our financial analysis background paper via our Blog page (see 'Financial Counter-Narrative' post).
Roehampton UCU outlined many specific alternatives to these cuts, including the sale of luxury property previously used to house the former Vice-Chancellor. Extraordinarily, staff collectively offered the university pay loans (on a 'stakeholder' model), with conditions including changes to ensure more democratic decision-making at the university, basic recognition of intellectual property of online resources produced by staff, improving equality at the university, and undoing spiralling high pay at the top. These were entirely reasonable demands, and an indicator of the great lengths staff were willing to go to to preserve their carefully built shared community of the university. However, these proposals were effectively ignored by senior management.
With the pressure of redundancy threats, and the collective desire to save colleagues' jobs, many staff took a pay cut (in the form of fractionalisation, which was an improvement won by UCU) from 1 August 2020 on the understanding that this would prevent further cuts. However, on 7 October 2020 Ezingeard intensified his cuts by announcing he was seeking £3.2million in salary savings from the arts and humanities at the university. No alternatives to salary cuts would be considered, and the sale of the luxury property would be used for other costs. These cuts to the arts and humanities would amount to a third of people losing their jobs, even after many colleagues were lost through voluntary severance (understandably some felt compelled to leave given the incredibly difficult working environment produced by senior management). In the middle of a global pandemic and job market chaos, staff are at risk of homelessness, which we consider unconscionable, unethical, and counter to stated commitments to community, diversity, and research. Some specific departments are targeted for losses of up to 50% which would amount to the destruction of these subjects. While Ezingeard has often stated that the university supports staff and students, as well as the arts and humanities, his strategy to attack jobs and destroy these departments based on reductive business models (privileging crude staff-student ratio numbers above all else) has already done long-term damage to the university and its communities.
While funding and subsidisation for the arts and humanities for all the value they bring to society is a widely upheld principle (even by conservative and neoliberal governments), senior managers at Roehampton have consistently presented a vision of the university whereby individual programmes are evaluated according to the reductive and inappropriate measure of undergraduate fee income. It is also clear the Ezingeard and Provost Anna Gough-Yates' strategy for the university is one driven by market and other data such as staff-student ratios which arguably does not relate to intellectual and creative innovation, or investment in advancing scholarship in the UK.
On 21 October Roehampton UCU members voted 88% in favour of a motion of no confidence in the Vice-Chancellor Ezingeard and Provost Anna Gough-Yates for failing to fully engage with proposed alternatives to cuts. They also voted overwhelmingly in favour of a consultative ballot on industrial action, and for a review of whether senior management represent value for money, some taking home pay in excess of £200k while proposing to make staff who actually teach and research jobless.
You can read past Roehampton UCU motions (including the 'stakeholder' model) here. Our view is that if we are asking to partake in decision-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 campaigning so far as core demands of the UCU campaign ‘Fund the Future’, launched on Friday June 12 2020, and presented by Jo Grady to Roehampton UCU members in the branch meeting she took part in on June 10 2020: 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.
LINKS & CAMPAIGNS
Roehampton UCU: https://roehampton.web.ucu.org.uk/