Gold Paper Petition

Dear all,

We have ONE  WEEK left before the end of term, so the idea is that we flood this now and get as many signatures as we can. To do so, idea is that:

1. We all sign up to talk with students on campus about the Gold Paper, the Petition and gather analogue signatures.

Please sign up here: http://doodle.com/poll/9sza6qn3695iamgi53nq4mwr/admin#table We meet at the front desk of the RHB for each session. Leaflets can be picked up from behind the Student Union Reception Desk; or from me (I’ll replenish stashes in the SU periodically). There is also a box for ‘Returns’ – completed signed leaflets behind the the SU desk.

2. Staff should try and talk to students in every class in the next 1/5 weeks about the petition, and students should bring it up if staff don’t. For staff, here is a PowerPoint slide attached and a lower res jpeg of the petition for you to show in lectures. Maybe 5 minutes can be taken for students to discuss/ sign at the end of classes?

The Petition: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gold-paper-petition

— and in the meantime for ’taking points’/ further info —The Gold Paper for background reading: https://goldsmithsucu.wordpress.com/the-gold-paper/

1. MENTAL HEALTH:

Please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j6j6StGBwQ) . From this, key stats:
Counselling Services Report 2015
2012-13 Number of Clients presenting issues of SELF HARM: 2014-15 Number of Clients presenting issues of SELF HARM: 218
2012-13 Number of Clients presenting issues of ANXIETY:  223 2014-15 Number of Clients presenting issues of ANXIETY:  363
2012-13 Number of Clients presenting issues of DEPRESSION, ANGER, MOOD CHANGE:167 2014-15 Number of Clients presenting issues of DEPRESSION, ANGER, MOOD CHANGE: 244
Debt/ Mental Health Connection Nationally:

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/23/university-mental-health-services-face-strain-as-demand-rises-50

2. Housing: 

“During the Summer, the College sold the leases on 3 Halls of Residence to CAMPUS LIVING VILLAGES (CLV). CLV is an Australian firm run by CEO Simon Hickey, with gross assets worth $2 billion. This news was presented to the Trade Unions the day the deal was signed. We subsequently found out that the deal has been the result of 2 years of secret negotiations. The leases are for 50 years. The return for the College (after fees) is £22 million. Rents for the next 50 years go to CLV, not back into the College.College Council has agreed, without consultation with Trade Unions or Staff, that this money is to be spent on a ‘Landmark Property’ at 1 St James’ […] and will establish a stand-out gateway to the University.”

http://news.sky.com/story/student-rent-strike-campaigns-gathering-pace-against-exploitation-10581250

3. Governance …. http://www.gold.ac.uk/governance/committees/

And the great and the good: (see also Tribunal doc attached for section on governance)

Goldsmiths UCU/Goldsmiths Students’ Union statement on the NSS Boycott

Goldsmiths UCU and Goldsmiths Students’ Union pledge our support for the boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS) launched by the National Union of Students. We believe that the NSS is a methodologically flawed instrument for measuring teaching quality and that it provides an incomplete picture of the student experience. Furthermore, evidence shows that quantitative student evaluations like the NSS encourage gender discrimination in Higher Education and exhibit bias against BME staff.

The NSS is a key metric for the government’s proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which will allow universities to increase fees depending on their TEF scores and whether they are rated Gold, Silver or Bronze. We believe that this will further entrench market forces inside Higher Education and distort the sector by privileging subjects that are focused, above all, on employability and popularity rather than those that highlight experimentation, creativity and critical thought. NSS scores will now be used in a framework that will devalue our degrees, especially the arts, humanities and social sciences programmes that we specialize in here at Goldsmiths.

Goldsmiths UCU and Students’ Union are committed both to protecting the quality of our education and to addressing issues that may be undermining this experience. We do not believe that the NSS – especially when it is linked to funding and fees – should have a role to play in this although we are more than happy to develop and participate in forms of evaluation that allow students to reflect on teaching quality and the wider academic experience in meaningful ways.

If even a handful of institutions refuse to participate in the NSS, it will damage the ability of the government to claim that the TEF is a fair and representative way of evaluating teaching quality. A boycott will protect the reputation of a Goldsmiths degree and make it harder to justify higher tuition fees and increased debt.

As part of the boycott, we are asking:

  • Third year undergraduate students NOT to answer any of the 27 questions of this year’s NSS that runs in the Spring term 2017.
  • All students who wish to support the boycott to help publicise the action – for example, taking part in lecture shout-outs – and to contact the Students’ Union as soon as possible.
  • UCU members to share materials in support of the NSS boycott, to upload a slide advertising the boycott to Powerpoint presentations in lectures and to allow students, where possible, to discuss the reasons for the boycott.
  • UCU members NOT to undertake any additional voluntary duties in relation to the NSS. Operationalising the NSS is not, except in a handful of cases, a contractual duty.

Our degrees are too precious to be distorted by the government’s determination to commercialise Higher Education and to see tuition fees rise ever higher. Boycotting the NSS is a hugely important first step to winning back control of our education.

 

Goldsmiths UCU CALLS FOR FREE MOVEMENT OF LABOUR IN HIGHER EDUCATION

The following motion was passed unanimously at GUCU’s AGM, Thurs 6 Oct

FREE MOVEMENT OF LABOUR IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Goldsmiths UCU wishes to condemn in the strongest possible terms the proposal by home secretary Amber Rudd to restrict the entry of international students to ‘top’ universities and to introduce labour market tests aimed at reducing the numbers of international staff. UK universities depend on international students and staff not just in economic terms but in their very mission: to serve as spaces that are open to all people regardless of nationality and background. As such, the home secretary’s proposals are both nonsensical and racist. Continue reading

GUCU Annual General Meeting Thurs 6 Oct, 12-1pm, RHB 308 with NUS President Malia Bouattia

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The Higher Education Bill and TEF: How can we fight for the education we want?

Guest Speaker Malia Bouattia NUS President

Newly elected NUS President Malia Bouattia will be attending our GUCU annual general meeting as guest speaker to discuss the HE Bill, TEF and the fight for education.

This meeting takes place at a critical time in the future of our sector. It will also be an opportunity to:

  • Discuss and agree next steps in the pay dispute
  • Learn more about on-going work around the Gold Paper
  • Discuss plans to address workload concerns on campus
  • Get more involved in the union branch, stand for union elections and vote for representatives. All positions in the Brnach will be up for re-election (see current positions here). If you want to stand/ or are interested in standing contact Hannah at gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk.  You can also put yourself forward on the day at the meeting.

Critical times for the education sector

 *As the new term begins the government is driving forward with the Higher Education Bill and White Paper which will utilize a new “Teaching Excellence Framework” (TEF) to enable universities to impose even higher fees on students and drive the market deeper into the sector. As a consequence many universities have already announced their intention to increase fees for next years intake, and some for current students. It at committee stage now and expected to return to parliament for a vote later this term.

*In the last few months the government have already scrapped maintenance grants /NHS bursaries and changed student loan repayment terms. As more debt is piled onto students UCU members continue to be in dispute over declining pay, casualization and gender pay inequality in the sector. Following last terms action, UCEA, the national employer representatives, have not improved their final offer of 1.1% on pay. (UCU update here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/circ/pdf/UCUBANHE3.pdf)

At our meeting we will be discussing how to respond to these attacks 

*Pay Goldsmiths representatives will be attending a London wide consultation on where next for the dispute, including a potential marking boycott, further strike action & working to contract. We will be discussing this and deciding a way forward.

National Demonstration UCU and NUS have called a national “United for Education” demonstration on Saturday 19 November. See facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/996259493804760/

Opposition to TEF Both UCU and NUS are committed to building opposition to TEF with student unions preparing for a boycott or sabotage of NSS in the spring term aimed at disrupting metrics for measuring TEF.

The Gold Paper At Goldsmiths staff and students have been working on developing concrete alternatives to the market model at a local level – from governance to finance: https://goldsmithsucu.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/the-gold-paper/

The Gold Paper was presented to Council last week and in the coming weeks department meetings will be organized to bring staff and students together to discuss what issues people want to prioritise and how we can build momentum around them. Copies of the Gold Paper are also available – contact gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk if you would like some.

Tackling Workload GUCU will also be launching a survey on workload for all staff following widespread concerns about increased workload and stress.

Would you like to get more involved in the union?

If you would be interested in getting involved with any of these issues – we want to hear from you! At the AGM all positions in the branch will be up for re-election  (see current positions here). Whether it’s working on equalities, becoming a department rep, or tackling casualization – please get in touch with Hannah by email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk. and let us know, or ask for more info.

You can also put yourself forward on the day at the meeting. Open to all UCU members – If you are not already a member – Join us! https://join.ucu.org

STATEMENT TO HEFCE ON STATUS OF EU NATIONALS by Goldsmiths College, UCU & UNISON

We value the huge contribution to academic life at Goldsmiths made by our staff who are citizens of other EU countries and believe that higher education is all the stronger for the presence of EU nationals in this country. Goldsmiths has benefited from the experience of people who came to the UK precisely because they saw it as a welcoming place for minorities and as a home for progressive, creative and critical research. London has long been a hub for diverse populations, including LGBTQ people from across the EU and Goldsmiths’ staff and student body is representative of these migrant populations.

However, the uncertainty following the EU referendum places staff who are EU nationals but who do not currently have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK in a specifically vulnerable position. We are aware that many members of staff in this position are feeling very anxious. Some may choose to look for employment elsewhere while others may find themselves having to apply for the right to continue working while at Goldsmiths.

Meanwhile, new rules for permanent residency in the UK privilege a conventional employment history and personal circumstances that potentially discriminate against those who have had more precarious working lives and come from less traditional backgrounds. As an institution that specializes in the creative industries, Goldsmiths could be particularly affected by the rigid imposition of such rules.

The legal position is extremely unclear. The government has not yet guaranteed that once negotiations are concluded, EU citizens residing in the UK will be permitted to stay. However, during the referendum campaign, both official Leave campaigns pledged that such citizens would “automatically” be given this right, i.e. be given ILR.

This uncertainty in residency status following the referendum helps no one. We believe that the government needs to guarantee the right to remain in the UK to those EU citizens living and working in the UK.

For politicians, there are good grounds for acceding to this call. The UK can ill afford to lose EU workers. Processing three million individual ILR applications is not feasible in the timescale available. Making this pledge would reduce the threat of a reciprocal deportation of 1.3 million British people from Europe. Finally, in the current febrile atmosphere, it would represent a clear line against those who would wish to blame migration for economic ills.

We call on HEFCE to lobby vigorously and immediately for the government to clarify the situation and to confirm that EU nationals working in the UK will be given indefinite right to remain.

Goldsmiths, University of London

Goldsmiths UCU

Goldsmiths Unison

GOLDSMITHS UNIONS’ STATEMENT ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Goldsmiths UCU, Unison and Students Union wish to acknowledge the fantastic work done by individuals in the Centre for Feminist Research and elsewhere to challenge sexual harassment on campus. We regret that the College’s response to date has not been able to deal adequately with the problem and we urge them, from this point on, to be proactive and open in addressing issues of sexual harassment. We acknowledge the Deputy Warden’s open letter on barriers to equality, and on the issue of sexual harassment in particular, and we urge the College to enter into wider dialogue with all staff and students about these concerns and to improve systems and processes for reporting, investigating and dealing with harassment at all levels across the College.

We believe that such issues can never be fully addressed on a quick-fix basis but rather require ongoing and active commitment to bring about changes in practices and behaviour. The campus unions have an important role to play in this work and also have much to learn and to contribute. Sexual harassment is intolerable and unacceptable. We urge people never to stay silent about these issues and to contact us with any suggestions about how we can best move forward to ensure that sexual harassment has no place on our campus.

Why are lecturers on strike this week? An open letter to Goldsmiths students.

FairPayDear Goldsmiths students

The University College Union (UCU) has called a national strike for 25-26 May, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Many academics and support staff will be cancelling all teaching, administration and office hours on both days. This is a way to put pressure on universities to meet our demands.

Why is the strike happening?

Ultimately the strike is about the future of higher education across the country. In particular, lecturers are making three key demands.

  • end the shocking gender pay gap in the profession. Women working as academics earn much less than their male counterparts. Nationally in Higher Education, the pay gap is 12.6% More details
  • greatly reduce the proportion of staff on insecure contracts like fixed-term posts and zero hours contracts. 75,000 members of university staff nationally are on these sorts of contracts.
  • a pay raise of 5%, to begin to make up for the erosion of our pay by inflation. Academics’ pay has fallen by 14.5% in real terms since 2009. Imagine what you’d do with a 14.5% cut in your loan or your own wages. Imagine what friends or family who are working would say to a 14.5% cut. We’re not asking for a real terms raise, just one that keeps pace with the rising cost of living. The universities have offered us just 1.1%!

Doesn’t a strike just hurt the students?

It is not the intention of your lecturers for their industrial action to impact adversely on their students, and we do all we can to ensure this doesn’t happen. Just like the junior doctors, sometimes it is necessary to withdraw our labour temporarily to demonstrate to our employers what an important job we do all day every day. The aim of the strike is to ensure better quality education for all involved, in a university that actually puts gender equality into practice, so that students can be well taught by lecturers who are given adequate time to prepare for classes and receive a fair wage in return.

Lecturers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions!

It’s austerity, everyone’s taking a pay cut

Except they aren’t. Last week the Times Higher Education magazine published the latest round of pay increases for vice-chancellors (VCs) and principals which showed an annual increase in pay and benefits of 6.1% for those at the top (excluding pensions) with one in five universities giving their leaders a rise of 10% or more.

The average salary of university Vice-Chancellors is now more than a quarter of a million pounds. At Goldsmiths the Warden’s parlay is £232,000 a 100% increase on the 2004-5 figure.  

This dispute is part of a larger fight about the political and financial priorities of our institutions. It comes in the wake of the government’s Education White Paper which threatens to further entrench the marketization of education while devaluing those who teach and contribute to learning and saddling students with yet more debt.

We need a united fight back.

What students can do?

You can sign this petition, organised by a group of students nationally https://www.change.org/p/petition-support-fair-pay-for-our-university-staff

On Wednesday and Thursday the UCU will be asking everybody not to cross the picket line. A picket line is a symbolic barrier. When a picket line is in place your lecturers (who are on strike) ask you not to make use of university buildings or services. Whether or not to cross a picket line is entirely your decision. We ask you to make sure, however, that it is an informed decision.

On strikes in previous years, many students came themselves to the picket line as supporters, to show their solidarity with the staff and discuss our mutual goal of securing quality and freely accessible education for all, provided by well-paid and valued staff.

We will be holding a teach out from 11am on both days outside the library and hope you will join us and participate. (see full details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1045220088899213/)