Saturday, 29 August 2009

Indefinite strike action goes ahead at Tower Hamlets College

UCU, 26 August 2009

Tower Hamlets College faces indefinite strike action from tomorrow (Thursday 27 August) after eleventh hour talks failed to resolve the ongoing row over job losses and cuts to English language courses.

Despite attempts from the UCU to negotiate with the college, the union said today that its members at Tower Hamlets have been left with no alternative but to walk out indefinitely.

Read the rest of the press release here.
And read more reports here, here and here.

London Met Uni UNISON members went to join the pickets on the first day of the strike to show their solidarity and pledged to support the strike every way they can: "Our fight is your fight - an injury to one is an injury to all."

What you can do
Submitted by AWL on 27 August, 2009 - 12:12.

What you can do to help:

1. Picket lines all day
Visit picket lines from August the 27th
Poplar E14 0AF
Arbour Square E1 0PT
Bethnal GreenE2 6AB

2. Take a collection at work:
Strike fund: c/o Keith Priddle UCU THC Treasurer
Tower Hamlets College, Arbour Square Site, E1 0PT.
Sort code 089299
Account number 65252262

3. Send urgent messages of support to:
Richard McEwan (Branch Sec) 07532364638
Alison Lord (Branch Chair) 07805819605
John Budis (Branch Sec) 07967893664

4. Write to the Principal

5. Public support meeting:
Invited local MPS, Councillors, Speakers invites to ESOL students, UCU, NUT, FBU, UNISON, CWU, PCS. Speakers tbc.
5pm - September 3rd
St. Mathias Church
off Poplar High Street.
Nearest Tube Poplar DLR.
Speakers tbc.

6. Sign:

7. For up to date info, video and photos join the Facebook group: ‘Tower Hamlets - Stop the Cuts!’

8. Write to your MP:

9. Demand Jobs and Educations for All. Join UCU sponsored lobby of the Labour party conference September 27th in Brighton.
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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

HEFCE release documents relating to London Met

Due to public demand, prompted by the unprecedented scale of the financial clawback, HEFCE have released a number of documents relating to the funding issue at London Met.

View all the documents here...
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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Management of London Met acted 'blindly', audit says

Times Higher Education Supplement, 6 August 2009
By Melanie Newman

London Metropolitan University was "operating blindly", with key decisions being made by managers and governors in the absence of solid facts, according to an independent auditor's report into incorrect student-data returns at the institution.

The auditor's conclusions are disputed by London Met, which says its senior management team was fully aware of the facts and denies any suggestion of recklessness.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England commissioned BDO Stoy Hayward last year to review London Met's approach to student records after inaccuracies were discovered in its student-data completions.

The institution is repaying £36.5 million after Hefce found that its student non-completion rate was 30 per cent, rather than the 3 per cent or so it had reported. A further £15 million has also been held back from London Met's recurrent teaching funding.

The university admitted including in its data returns students who did not fit Hefce's definition of completion, but said that it had "deliberately and consciously applied a certain interpretation of (Hefce's) rules on (reporting student non-completions), which it had signalled to Hefce in advance of its application and had been encouraged by Hefce to pursue".

Hefce said it never approved the university's interpretation of its non-completion rules, and added that it raised problems with completions data during two audits.

BDO was asked to audit the university's data returns for 2006-07 and to assess the extent to which the findings of two Hefce audits for 2003-04 and 2004-05 had been acted upon. The BDO auditors, who reported in January this year, found that the university's processes for compiling, reviewing and authorising data returns were ineffective....

Read the full article here
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Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Guardian raises questions over equality impact of LMU's job cuts

from The Guardian, 04/08/09

Are universities failing to assess the impact of job cuts on equality and on the gender and ethnic balance of staff?

Universities across the country are planning drastic job cuts and as many as 6,000 university staff face the axe. The umbrella group Universities UK (UUK) insists that institutions "have a good track record in handling staffing changes in an open and fair way". But union officials claim that half of those planning job cuts are breaking the law by failing to assess what impact the decisions will have.

Three laws – the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Equality Act 2006 – require universities to assess the impact of their current and proposed policies on race, disability and gender equality. But many still struggle to meet their obligations, with institutions often lacking the systems in place to do impact assessment at the initiation of a policy, rather than after it is impossible to change it.

"The public sector duties require institutions to promote equality," explains Rachel Curley, head of equality at the University and College Union (UCU). "The specific duty to assess the impact of policies and procedures is an important instrument in achieving this objective. The English funding council, Hefce, gave universities guidance on the issue in 2004, so it is disturbing that so many institutions are still not compliant."

According to UCU, of the 43 institutions which have indicated that jobs will be lost, at least 21 have failed to produce adequate impact assessments.

One institution raising serious concerns is London Metropolitan University (LMU), which plans to make 550 voluntary and compulsory redundancies.

Read the full article here
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Monday, 3 August 2009

Full scale of university nursery cuts exposed by Unison

By Catherine Gaunt, Nursery World, 29 July 2009

UP TO 20 nurseries on university and college campuses are facing closure, the union Unison has revealed.

The figures come from preliminary findings of a survey of Unison members, which have revealed the high number and pace of the nursery closures.
The union said universities and colleges are facing funding cuts of up to £400m and that nurseries are bearing the brunt of a cost-cutting exercise.
It warned that nurseries are essential amenities and that their closure will mean that many parents will not be able to continue their studies at further and higher education level, which goes against the Government's 14-19 agenda to open up access to young people, especially young parents.

Cuts will also have an impact on retraining and skills development during the recession. Many of those further and higher education institutions that have earmarked their nurseries for closure offer childcare qualifications.

They include London Metropolitan University, Sheffield University, the University of the West of England, Goldsmiths at the University of London, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, Bridgwater College, Somerset, Ebbw Vale College, Middlesbrough College, Manchester College and Grantham College.

Last week Nursery World revealed that Unison and nursery staff at the University of Westminster are campaigning to save the university's two nurseries, which are due to close in September (News, 23 July). The union has warned of a crisis for college and university nurseries and has launched a joint campaign with the National Union of Students and the teaching unions to fight the closures.

The 'Meet the Parents' report by the NUS highlighted the shortage of campus childcare, which was often oversubscribed (News, 30 April). Unison has written to ministers and the higher and further education funding councils and will shortly meet David Lammy, Minister for Higher Education.

Ben Thomas, Unison national officer for children's services, said, 'Because teaching and learning have to be prioritised, essential but non-core services such as nurseries are suffering. This is a tragedy for children and nursery staff. The nurseries provide a vital service for students. Workplace nurseries are a key tool in allowing colleges to meet government targets on increasing participation in education and on re-skilling the workforce at a time of recession. Closing nurseries may provide a short-term cost saving but will have a long-term impact on the ability of these institutions to attract and retain the students they are meant to be targeting.'

Read the article at Nursery World here
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MP attacks government over uni jobs

from The Islington Tribune

ISLINGTON North MP Jeremy Corbyn has berated the government in the Commons over the planned redundancies of 500 staff at the London Metropolitan University in Holloway.

Speaking in a debate on education cuts, Mr Corbyn described it as “unacceptable” that rather than discuss the subject, Ministers keep referring him back to the national funding council. Mr Corbyn said: “I have raised this matter in an Adjournment debate, in parliamentary questions, in early day motions and in correspondence with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and with the relevant Ministers of State. They have all referred me back to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. How very convenient.”

He called on ministers to intervene to prevent jobs from being lost and to protect courses and student numbers. The university is being asked to pay back £39.5million, meaning more than 5,000 student places could be lost as well as jobs. “The situation is grim,” Mr Corbyn said. “The university faces the possibility of the loss of more than 500 jobs, the closure of a number of courses and a reduction in student numbers in the long-term. It cannot be the government’s intention that so many people should lose the opportunity of going to university or that so many experienced, effective teachers should lose their jobs.”

Read the article here
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