All posts by surreyucu

External examiners resigning as part of UCU action

UCU is calling on members across the country to resign from external examiner posts, and refuse to accept new positions, as part of the current dispute over pay and casualisation. The following letter was published in the Guardian, explaining the action:

We write as external examiners whose role is to assure the quality of higher education courses at universities and colleges across the UK, but who have decided to resign in order to support the campaign for fair pay in our sector. We have resigned because, while as senior academics we believe our role in underpinning the quality of education provided to students is vital, we are all too aware of the unfairness of the current pay policies of our universities and their impact on staff and their students.

We have watched with sadness the pay of academic and professional staff fall in real terms by 14.5% since 2009; we have seen the numbers of casual staff proliferate; and seen universities do little or nothing to reduce the shocking gender pay gap despite having a collective surplus of £1.85bn. Yet the final straw for many of us is the contention by our employers that the latest final pay offer of 1.1% is “at the limits of what can be afforded” when at the same time we discover that university leaders have themselves received an average pay increase of 6.1%. The blatant hypocrisy of this position is breathtaking.

We love our work as external examiners not least because it brings us into contact with academics from around the country. The high-quality work we see confirms to us that staff deserve better from institution heads. We have therefore resigned from our external examiner posts and will not be taking up new posts in order to demonstrate that there will be no “business as usual” until we have a commitment from our universities to fair pay in higher education.

We recognise that this is a significant step for any professional to take but urge other external examiners to follow our lead.
Professor Richard Taffler Warwick Business School, University of Warwick
Professor Cathy Urquhart
Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor Tony Evans Royal Holloway, University of London
Professor Florence Myles University of Essex
Professor Heiko Balzter
University of Leicester
Professor Daniel Katz
University of Warwick
Professor Robert Miller Queen’s University Belfast
Professor Christian De Cock
University of Essex
Professor Glen Jeffery
UCL, Institute of Ophthalmology
Professor Thomas Munck University of Glasgow
Professor Jeremy Guggenheim
Cardiff University
Professor Cam Donaldson Glasgow Caledonian University
Professor Deborah Mabbett Birkbeck College, University of London
Professor Emma Clery University of Southampton
Professor Willy Maley University of Glasgow
Professor Jim Newell University of Salford
Professor Mark Humphries Swansea University
Professor George Kernohan University of Ulster
Professor Martin Conboy University of Sheffield
Professor Ingunn Holen University of Sheffield
Professor Laurie Stras University of Southampton
Professor Laura Lewis University of Southampton
Professor Raymond Bush University of Leeds
Professor David Clarke Newcastle University
Professor Keith Attenborough The Open University
Professor Tess Ridge University of Bath
Professor Melanie Simms University of Leicester
Professor Andrew Samuels University of Essex
Professor Adam Rutland Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor Malcolm Povey University of Leeds
Professor Rolland Munro University of Leicester
Professor Stephen Salter University of Edinburgh
Professor Paul Johnson University of York
Professor Harriet Bradley UWE Bristol
Professor Susan Page University of Leicester
Professor Dominique Laurence University of Manchester
Professor Dominic Wring Loughborough University
Professor Richard Saundry Plymouth University
Professor Eleanor Spaventa Durham University
Professor Victor Van Daal Edge Hill University
Professor Frederic Fol Leymarie Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor Raphael Salkie University of Brighton
Professor Özlem Onaran University of Greenwich
Professor Claire Squires University of Stirling
Professor John Holford University of Nottingham
Professor Patrick Ainley University of Greenwich
Professor Martin Parker University of Leicester
Professor Richard Worden University of Liverpool
Professor Jenny Pickerill University of Sheffield

Join the debate – email [email protected]


Upcoming strike on 25th and 26th May – letter from Sally Hunt


Dear colleague,

I am sure like me you choked on your cornflakes this morning when you read about the latest round of pay increases for vice-chancellors (VCs) and principals.

The comprehensive survey by Times Higher Education magazine shows a latest annual increase in pay and benefits (excluding pensions) of 6.1% for those at the top.  One in five universities gave their leaders a rise of 10% or more. The Times Higher Education compares that to an average increase of 1.3% for staff over the same period.

Yet while university leaders have received pay increases many times higher than inflation, the final pay offer to staff of 1.1% is described by the employers as the “very best offer” possible.  This simply cannot stand.

The union’s higher education committee (HEC) has agreed a comprehensive programme of industrial action aimed not just at improving this final offer but also persuading the employers to address the gender pay gap and the growth of casual contracts.  Please give the union your support starting with the two days of strike action on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May.

Finally for today, I have been inundated with messages about the union’s appeal to external examiners to resign their posts and not take up new ones for the duration of the dispute.  Many of you ask what notice you should give. UCU is not asking you to break your contract by giving incorrect notice. You must always give the requisite notice stipulated in your external examiners’ contract or accompanying handbook. Where no expressed ie. written notice period is given you must give a reasonable period of notice which will depend on the circumstances. If you require more detailed advice please contact Matt Waddup at [email protected]

You can read about the Times Higher Education VC pay survey here.

You can read UCU’s response here.

You can read about our programme of industrial action here.

Thank you for your support.

Sally Hunt UCU general secretary

FAQs during ballot period

I haven’t received my ballot paper:

Please contact Euclid Pires at [email protected] in the regional office, preferably by email, providing the correct mailing address at which the ballot paper should have arrived and your membership number (if known). If the ballot opened less than a week ago, you may be asked to wait a few more days to see if it arrives. If a ballot paper has already been sent to you but does not arrive, UCU can ask the scrutineer to issue a duplicate ballot paper, which will come with a duplicate declaration form on which you will be asked to declare that you have received only one ballot paper.

I’ve just joined UCU, can I be sent a ballot paper?

You can contact Euclid Pires at [email protected] in the regional office to request one. But a ballot paper cannot be sent to you until your membership has been confirmed by UCU’s membership department at head office.

I received a ballot paper, but I’m no longer at the institution being balloted:

Please contact [email protected] in the regional office, who will make sure our records are updated. Please destroy the ballot paper.

I received a ballot paper and I shouldn’t have done/I haven’t received a ballot paper but I should have done – is the ballot now invalid?

No. Although UCU does its best to keep membership data up to date at all times, it is data which by its nature changes daily and it is unrealistic to expect 100 per cent accuracy at all times. The statutory requirements that apply to industrial action make allowances for minor errors of a scale unlikely to affect the outcome of the ballot.

I didn’t receive a ballot paper, can I take part in the action?

If you were entitled to vote, but didn’t receive a ballot paper through an error or lost post, you can still take part in the action.

I joined the union after the ballot had closed, or after the call to take industrial action had been made, can I take part in action?

Yes. If there is a call to take industrial action, you can take part in that industrial action as soon as your membership has been confirmed by the membership department at UCU’s national head office. Please wait for this confirmation before you take part in action.

Why is ERS’s address on my ballot return envelope slightly different to their registered office address?

Running ballots all the time, ERS receive so much post that they have special arrangements for receiving ballot returns via a main sorting office. All their mail is ultimately delivered to the same building, and any ballot paper sent in the pre-paid envelope provided or returned to their registered office address will reach them.

Operational Review – FAQs

We have received lots of really pertinent questions about the Operational Review. We will keep this post updated with frequently asked questions and answers.

  • What legal support is available to me as a member of UCU?

Many will be extremely anxious about the proposal to cut up to 100 posts at the University. This is an unprecedented attack on the Surrey workforce and will be resisted by your union collectively.

Understandably, you may believe there is a legal remedy to your post being put at risk. Unfortunately it is highly unlikely there is such a remedy. UK law is clear that if the following criteria are met redundancies are lawful.

(a) the fact that his employer has ceased or intends to cease

(i) to carry on the business for the purposes of which the employee was employed by him, or
(ii) to carry on that business in the place where the employee was so employed, or

(b) the fact that the requirements of that business

(i) for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or
(ii) for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was employed by the employer, have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish.”

The focus is not on whether there is less work, but whether the employer can demonstrate a need for fewer employees to carry out the work.

You will no doubt have more legal questions. For this reason UCU in association with Thompsons Solicitors will be holding a presentation and Q & A on Wednesday 15th April at noon in Teaching Block 18. This will be followed by a limited number of very brief one to one sessions. If you wish to have a one to one please contact Euclid Pires at [email protected] who will assign you a time slot.

  • Is the enhanced voluntary severance package on offer at Surrey really generous?

Here are some examples of voluntary severance offers in similar institutions.

Aberystwyth: One month for each year (max 12 months) and full, unreduced pension for older members of staff.

Cardiff: offer 12 months severance regardless:

Dundee: 15 months

Queen Mary offer to top up pensions:

Manchester: up to 14 months full salary

Our management will no doubt argue that there is a fixed budget for voluntary severance payments but it’s worth noting that, in spite of much talk of of financial pressures due to the general economic climate the university budget is in surplus; our Vice Chancelor is the 10th highest paid in the land and we are investing huge sums in new buildings.

Surrey management threatens 100 redundancies

The Vice Chancellor has launched an Operational Review threatening 100 job losses across the university. The proposals include the restructuring of both academic and administrative departments, with many colleagues forced to compete with each other for jobs in the new structure.

It is important that we support each other and work together to protect our livelihoods and working conditions.  There are a number of things that we can do collectively as a union, in addition to providing support for members at risk of redundancy.

Our branch will need to decide together what action we plan to take in response to these proposals.

Come to our branch meeting on Wednesday 25th March, 12-1pm, 19 AC 03, to discuss and vote on our strategy.

Information about the Operational Review can be found on SurreyNet. The consultation period for the proposals ends on 8th May, but we will need to act much faster than this to make our voices heard.

We are much stronger if we act together. Even if your job is not currently at risk, please get involved now to support your colleagues and protect our university from further cuts. After recent announcements in relation to teaching allocation, it is clear that job losses will mean much higher teaching workloads for staff that remain at Surrey.

In addition to the branch meeting next week, there are also meetings taking place in departments particularly threatened by the proposals. Contact your departmental or faculty representative to get involved.

Signatories to the open letter to the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, and the Vice-President of Human Resources, University of Surrey

We are uploading signatures received every half day, to enable us to monitor for inappropriate comments.

Link to the open letter to the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, and the Vice-President of Human Resources, University of Surrey.

There are currently 232 signatures on the letter (as of 10.21am, 8th December 2014)

Professor Rosalind Malcolm
Dr Ellen Seiss
Dr Rob Fidler
Ms Lois Davis
Dr Adam McNamara
Dr Jean Johnson-Jones
Miss Amanda Cleary
Dr Laura Harvey
Dr Alison Cottell
Peter Morris – “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
Professor Steve Goss
Clive Williamson
Matthew Sansom
Prof Allan Moore
Sam Williams
Victoria Redclift
Dr Nicola Green
Prof Alex Warleigh-Lack
Dr Charlie Masquelier
Dr Sarah Earthy
Henriette Hogh – I am disgusted with the bullying nature of the current management style and the demoralising effect this has on staff. The well-being of staff members are being sacrificed for league table positioning that with the current loss of staff is unlikely to be kept. In other words, staff well-being is being put at risk for nothing. Change is needed!
Jon Garland
Mark Olssen
Cornel Sandvoss – P.S. I would add that this would be a rather more respectful approach to the students and the wider community we serve, too.
Ian Brunton-Smith
Ipshita Basu
Theofanis Exadaktylos
Dr Kate Burningham
Dr. Tereza Capelos
Lada Timotijevic
Dr Jenevora Williams
Dr Michael McGuire
Scared Professor – too scared to disclose my name; suffering from anxiety and depression associated with the work place. This is despite being submitted to REF, MEQ of 4.4, plenty of good papers and grant income. This says it all.
Maxine David
Angela Druckman
Dr Laura Chappell
Mr Leslie Blake
Roberta Guerrina
Russell Keable
Dr Jane Fielding
Andrew Mason – Top of the league table for bullying
Dr Matthew Turner
Professor Justin D Edwards
Michele Bartuccelli
Dr Victoria Alexander
Dr Ally Grandison
Professor Rebecca Hoyle
Daniel McCarthy
Malte Kaeding
Ellen Dowell
Harriet Tenenbaum
Jane Ogden
Dr Alexandra Penn
Scared academic staff  – “I am deeply concerned about the demise of Surrey in the THE world rankings that has been in the news recently see From number 190 in 2007 – It fell to 400 in the 2014-15 rankings.. I expect this demise to continue unless senior management drastically change their strategy and start to treat academic staff with respect again. The University of Surrey can only become a work place again that attracts the best researchers if it allows space for creativity instead of imposing unreasonable pressure. Moreover, decentralization and devolution is needed, rather than central management imposing decisions on departments without consultation. Over the last half year I got the impression that senior management is destroying this university that is so dear to us. I urge senior management to review their strategy.
Jeevan Rai
Ms Deborah Davis
Ilka Gleibs – exactly why i left Surrey to a university that still has an operating Academic board with some decision-making power. But it was hard to leave my brilliant colleagues and great department behind! 
Amy Woodward
Dr Christopher Wiley
Prof Ian Roulstone
Mike Blow – Management should value their staff, not threaten them. Witholding 100% pay for ASOS is unethical and highly disrespectful. Daniel Noon – Although I am only a student at Surrey, I support the UCU and I am against the action of the UoS management
Jonathan Deane
Dr Spencer Thomas – As a young researcher, this has made me seriously consider alternative career paths and has opened my eyes to the University’s image of its staff.
Avril Lloyd – For some docking pay will mean that we cannot pay our rent this month meaning we have to choose between keeping our homes and the freedom to protest. As a new employee I am shocked at such tactics in a seat of learning where I would have thought reason and negotiation would be the preferred choice not taking away people’s incomes because they have concerns about their working conditions.
Philip Dean
Nigel Gilbert
Ozge Dilaver
Jack Holland
Victoria Senior
jess prior
Esther Zaff
Carolina Bank Muñoz
M.A. LA – As a typical researcher with only a few months contract left linked to a project I see few opportunities to continue working in Surrey. I feel this is not only an issue of shortage of funding affecting the research/academic community in general, but actions such as the University’s response to proposals for ASOS make the situation worse contributing to staff becoming more demoralised, intimidated and afraid of loosing their jobs. The current working environment in Surrey promotes a culture of ‘working alone and looking after oneself’ and hinders collaboration in activities such as bidding to bring research money in.
Jennifer Badham
Lu Yang
Dr. Elizabeth Palley
Emma Williams
Stephen Morse
Anne-Catherine Wera
Dr Jhuma Sadhukhan
Dr Susan Howard
Thomas Roberts – If Surrey university is serious about maintaining it’s top 10 ranking the management need to create an atmosphere which attracts the best possible staff. Promoting a culture of fear and intimidation will have the opposite effect
Emily Glorney
Prof Jeffrey Tostevin
Dr Gregory Tate
Dr Alexandra Bristow
Dora Brown
Janet Godolphin
Dr Stephen Mooney
David Faux
sara pasquetti
Jo Franklin
Julie Barnett
stacy uniack
Barbara Ward
Dr Paul Stevenson
Dr Barbara Engel
Paul Hodkinson
Prof Debra Skene
Allan Williams
Professor Andrzej Kierzek – I sign this letter to protest against the Vision2020 management style which in my view is accurately described in the letter. I am particularly concerned about University prioritising its position in newspaper league tables over academic integrity. For example, average Module Evaluation Questionnaire scores for statistics courses are reported without error bars. This is example of University contradicting its own teaching to pursue ill-conceived strategy of achieving newspaper league table targets (incorrect MEQ analysis is not predictive of NSS results).
Roland Clift – Morale and motivation at the university have sunk to the lowest level I have seen in more than 30 years. This is turning into a disaster for the University of Surrey.
Dr. Alma Lopez-Aviles
Richard Bacon
Peter Johnson
Barbara Steel – I have always loved working for the University of Surrey and have welcomed the opportunities for development it has bought to me as a former “Academic-Related” Member of staff – now reclassed as “Support”….I am proud of what I have achieved on behalf of the University and the financial contribution I have made. However, I am very disappointed with the attitude of USS towards our pensions, which we have all contributed to in good faith…… whilst I recognise that the final salary scheme cannot continue for ever, surely there can be room for cooperative negotiation on this rather than the apparently draconian attitude that USS and the University is taking towards its staff. Many of us feel powerless and demoralised in the current climate here and, as a long-term and loyal member of staff, this is very sad to see.
Gianne Derks
Anne Irving
Prof. Philip Harris (U. Sussex) – It is tragic to see a partner university, with whom we have worked closely and collegially, sink to such depths in the aggressive and intimidating manner in which it treats its staff. This is appalling, even in comparison with the already low standards set at many other institutions (including my own). How ironic that messages like this emerge from the very department – Human Resources – that also instructs employees to avoid workplace bullying.
Mr Chris Burt
Kirstie Hatcher
Dr Sarah Neal
David Lloyd
Dr Paul Tosey
Annika Lohstroh
Professor Adrian Coyle – Although I left Surrey in the summer after 23 years as a member of staff, I continue to supervise doctoral students there and retain a deep concern about the brutalist management style that has developed and intensified in recent years. The university’s approach to UCU action is horrifyingly typical of an institution where management has abandoned the values that drew so many of us to work in higher education. And most of us who have left know that any claim about Surrey’s approach being inevitable in the current HE context lacks an evidence base. A brutalist management style is not the only option.
Oliver Bond
Dr. Tom Armstrong
Dr Julie Howarth – 37 years at Surrey. Very sad to see staff under such pressure and intimidation having to resort to this to seek change.
Tijana Timotijevic, Queen Mary, University of London – I sign this in solidarity with the colleagues at the U. of Surrey in their stand against workplace bullying and an authoritarian management culture.
Dr Carlo Barbieri
Derek Stevenson
Anonymous Comment – I have signed above, but subsequently wondered which of Surrey’s strapline applies to management’s treatment of academic staff: ‘Wonderful things happen here’? ‘Innovation, Passion, Collaboration’? ‘Openness, Curiosity’?
Alex S. Vitale
Dr Churnjeet Mahn
Dr Glyn Steventon
Ian Christie
Anne Arber
Cornelius Medvei
Dr Dawn Sanders
Prof Stephen Ogin
Dr Lucy Bell
Milly March – Although I am just a student, I wish to declare my support for the teaching staff at Surrey and my opposition to both the changes to the pension scheme and the 100% pay docking. I am shocked that academics I value and respect so much can be treated like this by the management who owe so much to them.
Anne Glover
Silvia Pani
Dr Giselda Bucca
Kim Peters
Dr. Jonathan Gilhooly
Dr Bram Mertens
Radmila Mileusnic
Michelle Gibbs – This is just the tip of a massive, badly managed, insulting iceberg which is tearing the heart out of the greatest resource.  I’m off, good luck everyone!
Dr Mark Barnard
Teo de Campos
Khim Horton
Sue Thorpe
Dany Beste
Helen Cooper – I think what is most amazing is that many of us appreciate that the defined benefits pension model will need to change. What annoys us is the way this has been handled. The models from UUK treated us like idiots, as if academics used to dealing with statistics and numbers wouldn’t notice. The email we received regarding the ASOS was combative and generally unpleasant. The follow up email acted as if no one had complained about the way we were being treated. Communication is a 2 way process, it involves listening as well as talking, until the higher echelons understand this we will continue to see ‘communication issues’ highlighted in the staff survey.
Paul Couchman
Harry Ziegler
Rachel Cohen – I left the Surrey nearly two years ago, sorry to leave great colleagues. However, having experienced Surrey University’s aggressive management style, I’m disappointed, but not surprised at this total disregard for the work and commitment of staff. Solidarity to Surrey UCU branch.
Kelly Gardner
Ann Matthews
Pros Costas Ioannides
Kristina Massey – My undergraduate degree is from Surrey and I remember it as a very friendly, supportive University. It is such a shame to hear how staff are treated there now. How fast things can change under punitive management.
David Andrews
David Ponsonby
Dr Caroline Edwards
Andy Bloor
Dr Jim Butcher / Branch Chair, Canterbury Christ Church University – In Universities the pursuit of ‘performance’ is antithetical to the pursuit of knowledge. We need a renaissance of intellectual life, not more metrics and procedures.
Christopher Anderson
Dr Chris Harvey
dan donoghue – I support the views of UCU on this….
Dr Katja Hallenberg
Dr Bernice Murphy, Trinity College Dublin.
Dara Downey
Monica Germana
Dr Christine Ferguson
Dr Richard Henson – Pension contributions are deferred pay and are a long term agreement between the employee and employer. The proposed changes to USS pension scheme are wrong as it forces staff to take up AVC which thereby amounts to yet a further pay cut. It also breaks the social contract between the employee and employer making it less likely that academics will remain within the sector.
Derek Walton
Susie Willis
Robert Stone – Having recently seen the Crucible it is only to clear that if these measures are adopted nationally that the Witch Hunt is coming .To deliver effectively academics need to trust that their opinion will at times go against the grain of student satisfaction. What they deliver is a challenge to complacency.
Dr. Kate Houlden
Dr Sally Robinson
Dr. Jill Galvan
Dennis Denisoff
Prof. Ian Davidson
Rachael Taylor
Russell Hitchings
Dr. Simon Hadfield
Professor Jessica Ringrose
Kae Smith – “In solidarity, NUS NEC Part Time Rep”
Dr Martin Eve
Patrizia Kokot
Kim Allen
Steven James Lally – This is a disgrace. Fix it.
Dr Mark Williams
Professor Emma Renold
Dr Heather Mendick
Matt Marter
Miriam Wlasny – Absolutely disgusting treatment of staff, and incredibly demoralising for those of us who are PGR students at this university.
Dr Anna Catherine Hickey-Moody
Dr Jane Essex
Zoë Skoulding
peter wilkin
Anne Chappell
Remy Martin
Andy Seaman
Rachel O’Neill
Helen Hughes
Heather Gage
Prof. Jayne Osgood
Rochelle Harris
Dr Richard Sear
Connie Nolan
Professor Stephen Gourley
Dr E. Schroder – Industrial action is a democratic right. By attempting to take away this right through bullying and extreme pay docking, the University of Surrey has shown its commitment to anti-democratic policies that have no place in the UK. The anti-democratic policies of the institution will destroy its reputation as a place committed to international research and higher learning, both nationally and internationally. We have already seen the impact of Vision2020 on the international league tables: Surrey has fallen to below 400. If these management policies continue, this drop in the international league tables will just be the tip of the iceberg.
Ed Jacobs – The disrespect with which management has treated its staff in this dispute is an outrage. The branch UCU has approved a motion for a vote of no confidence in the VC, Prof Christopher Snowden. This motion has my support. From my perspective, the VC has begun a process that is destroying the university.
Kerry Brown
Dr Shumaisa Khan
Phil Buckley
Dr Emilia Bertolo
Prof Peter Buckle – I left the University of Surrey at the end of 2009. I was saddened to read this letter but, I confess, not surprised, based on my experiences in the latter years of my tenure there. I have since worked at both Imperial College and the Royal College of Art. I have encountered no such adverse climates of fear in either location. I hope the damage is reversible. Good luck colleagues.
Stuart Swanton
Dr Dimitris Asimakoulas
Dr Alison Yeung
Rosina Marquez
Professor Chris Flood (emeritus) In solidarity with former colleagues and UCU members.
Jose M. Fernandez-Tunon
Dr Jane Marriott
tom mendum
Dr Philip Hancock
Ms Jennifer Jackson
Birgit Linton
Discouraged Academic – “There are two ways in general to do management:
1. Set the rules and lay the law down.
2. Work with staff to help them perform their best and develop.
The executive board definitely go for option 1, because it’s easy for them, they earn their lucrative salaries and roll in the money while others suffer. The managers in faculties below them are pressured and they pressure the people below them and dictorial bullying culture is rife. A University that does that kind of thing becomes a bad place and people outside are certainly seeing through the advertising banners that try to cover up the problem.
I went to a great hotel one weekend. The reason that it was so good and the reason the staff were so good to us was that it was obvious their management were doing good management for them. Please can the executive board learn form this and change your ways so they are in line with option number 2? If you do, then you will have far more to be satisfied with yourselves and so will the University have a lot to unashamedly smile over. Success needs to happen in practise, not just on paper.”
Sharlene Ting – I wholly support the motion for a vote of no confidence in the Vice Chancellor, Christopher Snowden and his followers.
Bob Birtwell
Gareth Dale
Peter Thomas