Striking to Save Universities

In solidarity with East Midlands Universities on strike for eight days we re-publish, with permission, this great twitter feed from Dr Lee Jones (QMUL) on why staff are striking:

“You’ll get nothing from me for the next 8 days except #UCUstrike. I’ll explain why I and thousands of other university staff are striking here. Long thread, because there are a lot of grievances. /1 

Universities are at breaking point after years of marketisation.

Many ppl think unis are great places to work. Not really.

We’re overworked to the point of collapse. Academics work 2 unpaid days per week to cope with insane workloads.… #UCUstrike /2 

At my uni
– 41% of staff say they have no reasonable workload control
– 43% can’t strike decent work/life balance
– 64% say no effective policies to relieve workload pressures
– 44% witnessed bullying/ harassment just last year.…

#UCUstrike /4 

Why is it so bad? Uni leaders now run campuses like businesses. They cram students in to get more income; drive down staff costs to divert money to buildings; and impose ever more work to game external metrics/ league tables, to get even more money and growth.

#UCUstrike /5 

At my uni, over last decade, student numbers rose 66% but academic staff rose only 33%.

At many unis, despite paying absurdly high fees, students face cramped seminar rooms & libraries & overworked, stressed staff with insufficient time to support them.

#UCUstrike /6 

This is a cause of profound distress to many academics. We are dedicated professionals, devoted to our students. It pains us that we don’t have the resources to do our jobs properly. It also pains us that we have no choice but to disrupt our teaching for #UCUstrike/7 

Yet as staff pay fell 21% in real terms over last decade, our Principal’s pay and perks package rose 32%, to £324,726 in 2017/18, when £2.2m also went on “key management personnel”.…

Inequalities seen in private sector now manifest in unis.

#UCUstrike /10 

And pay inequalities hit women and BAME colleagues hardest. At my uni, the gender pay gap is 14% and the BAME gap is 22%.…

This is typical of higher education.

UCU wants action to address this, too.

#UCUstrike /11 

On top of all this, our pensions have been cut 3 times in last 8yrs, costing the average lecturer £240k in retirement. Some will have only £150/wk to live on.…

The old bargain was: crap pay but dignified retirement. Now that’s going, too.

#UCUstrike /14 

So what’s the strike about? Everything. Pay, pensions, workloads, equality, casualisation.

It’s about the dire realities of a failed experiment in marketising a public good.

We are trying to save universities, as well as ourselves.

#UCUstrike /15 

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AWLP: Statement of 5 Guiding Principles

University of Derby UCU Branch – Five Guiding Principles for institutional and individual discussions about Academic Work Load Planning (AWLP). Their aim is to increase academic autonomy:



  1. Transparency – AWLP should be a public and published process. Individual AWLPs should be available at all times and all staff records should be open;

  2. Negotiation – What appears on individual AWLPs should follow a process of timely and open negotiation before the commencement of the academic year;

  3. Teaching – All formal pedagogic interaction with students must receive an allocation of hours within the contractual 550 hours and such allocations must be uniform across the University;

  4. Contract – All decisions about what appears on an individual AWLP must be as close as possible to the national contract;

  5. Research – All staff identified as having SRR (Significant Responsibility for Research) should have an allocation of time out of the 550 contact hours.

    (Agreed by the Branch Committee in November 2019 and noted by the Regional Office)






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Protect Our Pensions

On Wednesday 16 October at 13.00 in Room N111 (Kedleston Road),  UCU and UNISON are holding a joint meeting – our Speaker is Chris Mason, UCU  Regional  Pensions  Officer

Universities are keen on rhetoric about staff well-being while seeking to take away or reduce pension rights and ensure that staff spend their retirement in reduced circumstances or in poverty. Attacks are underway on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and the Local Government Pension Scheme. The Teachers’ Pension Scheme may well be next. At Derby the governing body are seeking a review of pension arrangements. Come along and hear about what is going on and why we need to defend our pensions nationally and locally.

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Branch Activity 2019-20

The following issues will be taken up by the Branch after unanimous approval at the packed AGM/Branch Meeting held on Wednesday 15 May: 


‘The UCU Branch (along with the UNISON Branch) will investigate the nature and extent of bullying at the University.’


‘This Branch opposes any attempts by the University to move away from the Teachers’ Pension or Local Government Pension Schemes’.

 The National Contract

‘This Branch will seek to move away from AWLP and return to the national contract with the three role descriptors (Research; Teaching and Research; Teaching and Scholarship) as the basis for determining our workloads at the University. This includes:  Appendix 1 ( specifies that the appraisal process has to be developmental and must not be used for performance pay.’  


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Agenda for the 2019 AGM

Agenda for the AGM of the University of Derby Branch of the UCU to be held on Wednesday 15 May 2019 at 13.00 in Room N108 (Kedleston Road Campus). Light refreshments will be available.

Welcome by the Chair                                                                            

Minutes of the Previous AGM held on 16 May 2018                                      

Officers’ Reports: Chair, Treasurer – including appointment of auditors – Secretary, Membership Secretary, Health and Safety Officer, Equality Officer.

Results of the Elections to the Branch Committee (as signed off by the Returning Officer Dr Sean Broome) . The Following were elected:

Chair: Dennis Hayes 

Vice-Chair: Kulsoom Pridmore* 

Treasurer: Ann Wells 

Secretary: Claire Tupling  

Membership Secretary: Ruth Mieschbuehler  

Health and Safety: Rosemary Horry  

Equality Officer: Teresa Forde    

FE Rep: Patrick Barber*

UDOL Rep: Prateek Adhikari* 

AWLP Rep: Carlton McDonald*

(*) Late nominations accepted by the Branch Committee on 13/5/19 

Date of the Next AGM: Wednesday 13 May 2020

Agenda for the Ordinary Branch Meeting (following):                           

Motion 1:

 ‘This Branch opposes any attempts by the University to move away from the Teachers’ Pension or Local Government Pension Schemes’

Motion 2:

‘This Branch will seek to mover away from academic workload planning and  return to the national contract with the three role descriptors (Research Teaching and Research; Teaching and Scholarship) as the basis for determining our workloads at the University. This includes  Appendix 1 ( which specifies that the appraisal process has to be developmental and must not be used for performance pay.’

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AGM Calling Notice 2019



The AGM of the University of Derby Branch of the University and College Union will be held on Wednesday 15 May 2019 at 13.00 in Room N108 on the main campus – Kedleston Road.  

The election process is as follows:

The AGM of the University of Derby UCU Branch will be held on Wednesday 15 May 2018 – this is the process for the election of the Officers and Committee:

Friday 12 April: Notification of AGM was sent out to members with a call for Nominations Branch Officer and Committee posts – with nomination forms.

Posts for election are Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Officer, Equalities Officer, Anti-Casualisation Officer, Health and Safety Officer, AWLP Rep,, UDOL Rep., FE Rep., Buxton and Leek Rep., and Committee Members (3). The names of the current holders are on the web site:

Friday 3 May: 12.00 Deadline for return of ballot forms and the count by the returning officer Dr Sean Broome in room B109 at Kedleston Road or by email:

If posts are contested there will be an election which will be completed by Friday 10 May.

Wednesday 15 May: AGM and Ordinary Meeting 12.00 – 13.00 Room N108 – Refreshments will be provided

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Teachers’ Pension Scheme

One of the UCU’s key roles is to be involved with pensions matters and to represent your interests.

All eligible staff are strongly recommended to join the employers’ occupational pension scheme.

Pensions are a major topic and, even for those in their 20s and 30s, should be taken seriously as they are deferred pay and are very important in later life.

This will usually be a defined benefit scheme based on length of service and pensionable salary. 

The schemes

Across the education sector there are currently several different schemes and the scheme offered will depend on the employing institution and sometimes on the category of employment.

Higher education

The great majority of current staff working in pre-92 higher education institutions are members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), and a small number remain in the modified Federated Superannuation System for Universities (FSSU), or their own university superannuation schemes.

Members working in the post-1992 higher education institutions in England and Wales will normally be offered membership of either the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) or a Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) as applicable to their post.

As the employer contribution rates in TPS and USS are now very close any member moving from a pre-1992 to a post-1992 institution needs to be aware that some post-92 institutions are members of USS for the purpose of enabling staff coming from this sector to remain with USS; you would need to check if this applies to you, and then take advice on whether or not you should remain in USS.


The Teachers’ Pension Scheme announcement that employer pension contributions will rise from 16.4% to 23.6% from September 2019 has caused widespread concern throughout the sector.

Pension contributions by universities and colleges to rise by £142 million a year.

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Post-92 national contract

A national agreement reached in 1990 provided for an agreed contract of employment and national staff handbook text to be in place in each post-92 institution for all full-time and fractional lecturing staff (lecturers, senior lecturers and principal lecturers) by 31 August 1992.

This national agreementnational contract and the national staff handbook are not affected by the implementation of the new pay framework agreement during 2004-2006.

In most institutions local negotiation took place prior to the transfer of staff to the contract and associated staff handbook, and there is, therefore, a degree of variation in the conditions of service applicable to staff. In addition the national contract provides that locally and nationally negotiated collective agreements may vary the contract in future. UCU branches and co-ordinating committees will know what local agreements are applicable.

National contract overview

The main provisions of the national lecturer contract are as follows.

Continuity of service, for the purposes of sick and maternity entitlements, from other HE, FE and university institutions.

A weekly maximum of 18 hours and annual maximum of 550 hours ‘formal scheduled teaching’. (The definition of formal scheduled teaching will vary from institution to institution). In certain subject areas, such as teacher education, art, design and the performing arts, where the nature of the curriculum and teaching style make these limits inappropriate, a more flexible band of 14-18 hours over the anticipated teaching year may apply. The right to have the following factors taken into account when duties are allocated:

  • the full range and extent of actual duties to be performed;
  • personal development needs both as a teacher and as a subject specialist, and in relation to research and other scholarly activity and to overall career development – teaching experience;
  • the numbers of students for whom there would be overall responsibility;
  • teaching group sizes, with particular regard for methods requiring interaction (eg seminars), and assessment implications;
  • differing subject needs;
  • the appropriate teaching methods;
  • the number and range of the curricula to be taught, with particular consideration given to the development and delivery of new (for the lecturer) and innovative courses;
  • the desirability of achieving a reasonable balance of activities;
  • wider internal and external responsibilities.

A maximum teaching year of 38 weeks of which two will be spent on teaching-related administration.

35 days’ annual leave plus statutory days (eight) plus days when the institution is closed in the interest of efficiency (approximately five).

The remainder of the year (ie outside the teaching year and annual leave, usually one to five weeks) to be spent on self-managed research or scholarly activity.

A contractual obligation to participate in appraisal (the local scheme should be based on the nationally agreed model for staff development and appraisal which excludes any links to discipline or pay).

An obligation to inform the institution where it is proposed to take on external paid work (this does not apply to external examining, acting as an assessor or moderator, or the production of scholarly works).

Clauses on patent, copyright and confidential information, and academic freedom (these improve on the statutory position in that staff retain copyright over the work they produce as part of their scholarly activity).

The right to be given three months’ notice, and the obligation to give two months. The nationally agreed staff handbook text sets out provision for sick leave, and maternity leave. It contains guidelines for the determination of the duties of lecturing staff and these are likely to have been added to through local negotiation both in terms of substance and procedural arrangements. It also contains arrangements for national HE pay.


Despite the union’s repeated attempts to negotiate a national researcher’s contract, research staff contracts are currently negotiated at institutional level. Traditionally researchers have been employed on worse terms and conditions than lecturers, however, in a number of institutions, UCU has successfully negotiated that researchers should be employed on a variation of the post-92 national lecturer contract, with the same rights as lecturers. In addition the Research Staff Concordat states that researchers should be employed on the same conditions as ‘established staff’.

The 2004 pay framework agreement requires all staff to be graded according to the same principles and to be provided with equal pay for work of equal value. This will result in changes to the pay and conditions of research staff bringing them into line with lecturers. You should check with your UCU branch officer what the position is in your institution and visit the framework agreement section of this website for further information.

The vast majority of research staff are employed on fixed-term contracts, linked to length of funding. UCU is campaigning for an end to the abuse of fixed-term contracts.

Senior academic staff

Senior academic staff (ie employed above principal lecturer grade) are generally employed on individualised contracts, although some institutions have negotiated a senior academic staff contract with UCU or employ them on a variation of the lecturer contract.

UCU is campaigning for such staff to be included within collective bargaining and has succeeded in including senior academic staff in the framework agreement pay structure in institutions such as Huddersfield and Gloucestershire. For information on the position in your institution contact your UCU branch officer.

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AGM 2018

Come along and hear what UCU has done for members…


Agenda for the AGM of the University of Derby Branch of the UCU to be held on Wednesday 16 May 2018 from 13.00 – 14.00 in Room S104 (Kedleston Road Campus). Refreshments will be available.

Attendance and apologies (an attendance sheet will be circulated)

Welcome by the Chair

Minutes of the Previous AGM held on 17 May 2017

Matters Arising not on the Agenda

Officers’ Reports:

Chair, Treasurer – including appointment of auditors – Secretary, Membership Secretary, Health and Safety Officer, Equality Officer.                                                 

Results of the Elections to the Branch Committee (as signed by the Returning Officer)


Chair: Dennis Hayes – Elected

Vice-Chair: Kulsoom Yusuf– Elected

Treasurer: Ann Wells– Elected

Secretary: Claire Tupling – Elected

Membership Secretary: Ruth Mieschbuehler – Elected

Health and Safety: Vacancy

Equality Officer: Teresa Forde – Elected

Committee Members:

FE Rep: Patrick Barber – Elected

UDOL Rep: Prateek Adhikari – Elected

Anti-Casualisation Officer: Ihsan Foster – Elected

AWLP Rep:  Carlton McDonald – Elected

Committee Member: Thomas Devlin – Elected

Secretary of the Buxton Sub Branch: Vacancy

Secretary of the Leek Sub Branch: – Vacancy

NB Vacancies will be filled by the new committee.

Date of the Next AGM: Wednesday 15 May 2019


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Late Motion for UCU Congress 2018


This motion was passed unanimously at East Midlands Region on Saturday 21 April:

Lecture Capture and Strike Action  

During the recent strikes in defence of pensions there were concerns over the possible use of lecture capture as a strike breaking weapon.

Therefore, the East Midlands Regional Council asks the NEC to update the 2013 bargaining guide for branches on Recording/Filming of Lectures to bring it in-line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and to ensure that:

  • lecture capture is voluntary;
  • academics retain authorship and production rights to their lectures;
  • academics have a say in the use of the films and other recordings of their lectures;
  • a condition of any agreement with a university on lecture capture has a clause to exclude films and other recordings being used during industrial action;
  • academic freedom is not curtailed by filming and other recording;
  • students are not put into ethical or other difficulties by filmed or recoded responses in lectures;
  • lecture capture is not for disciplinary uses.

(146/150 words maximum)

Background Information (the reason for a late motion):

The issue of lecture capture became an issue during the period of the pensions strike when it caused concern that the recordings could be used to undermine strike action.

On the 20th March 2018 the THE ran an article by Jack Gove: ‘Academics ‘must sign away authorship rights’ to recorded lectures’ the summary was: Copyright policy would bar staff at University of Nottingham from objecting to edited versions of their own lectures, which could be used during a strike. (

Furthermore – at least at The University of Nottingham – lecturers would not be credited with being the authors of their lectures:

As part of the “copyright, intellectual property, performance rights and consent” agreement, staff would agree that they “may not be credited as the creator or author of the lecture” and would “not…object to the way in which the lecture recording is edited, altered or used by the university”.

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