MAB Information

UCU National Marking and Assessment Boycott

The University and College Union (UCU) is holding a national marking and assessment boycott over pay, casualisation, workloads and equal pay.

For more information:

UCU national website:

Warwick UCU local FAQs and guidance:

We encourage you to join the boycott and stand with UCU in its fight for better pay and working conditions.

Strike day 3: Pride

The third day of national strike action saw UCU turn out in strength both on the Warwick picket line and at the mass rally in London. Strong showings from English despite the cold weather, a third successful #bikesforstrikes rally and a great teach out from Warwick Pride. And it was someone’s birthday.

Staff from English deploy Dickens to highlight UUK miserliness

In stark contrast with the university administration, student support has been heartwarming throughout these three days of action. The Warwick Pride Society stepped up with two powerful talks to remind us why the struggles against inequality in higher ed are intrinsically linked to struggles for emancipation among oppressed minorities, including LGBTQ+ communities, everywhere.






Again, the weather gods were kind to participants in the #bikesforstrikes rally around campus:

And we celebrated a cherished comrade’s birthday – our deputy Vice-Chair Gavin is still unsure how he feels about turning 23:

Meanwhile in central London, UCU crowds made an excellent showing while being addressed by some veterans in labour organising:






And Warwick members carried their research with them:

An excellent turnout for the group photo closed out this phase of industrial action. It’s now up to university administrators to make sure this very challenging year for all of us, staff and students alike, does not extend into a prolonged winter of discontent. Happy holidays, everyone!

Strike day 2: CWU, climate and engaged pedagogy

Brilliant sunshine for today’s picket, which saw visits from striking CWU workers, MP for Coventry South Zarah Sultana and journalist-researcher and chair of Coventry Green New Deal David Ridley. Also: more intensely relaxed cycling around campus, and an engaged and engaging talk on bell hooks’s radical pedagogy. And let’s not forget about the vegetarian chilli.

Posties support uni workers, uni workers support posties

Zarah Sultana with a message for management

David Ridley (author of No Consolation: Radical Politics in Terrifying Times) gave an insightful talk connecting the higher education crisis with the climate crisis. He asked us three questions: (1) How can universities like Warwick put the green transition at the heart of what they do? (2) How can universities link up with other educational institutions (primary, secondary, FE) in this effort? (3) How can UCU connect with other unions and NGOs, nationally and internationally?

This food for thought was joined by literal nourishment from Professional Services Branch Secretary Caroline Proctor, and very welcome it was; never say the union doesn’t feed you, in every sense.

Oh yes

History PhD student Sue Lemos gave a stirring talk on the legacy of Black feminist and social activist bell hooks, with special attention to hooks’s concept of engaged pedagogy centred on love.

The #bikesforstrikes (or #pedalsforpensions) action continues to add an essential element of motion to the usually stationary activity of picketing.

And chatting with fellow picketers, along with the occasional breakout boogie, continues to enliven our time on the line.

Don’t miss the final day of action on Wednesday 30 December, when there’s more dancing in the offing. See you next week!


Strike day 1: A New Hope

A rousing start to three days of strike action at Warwick, with a strong turnout, welcome support from students, picket line poetry, #bikesforstrikes, a talk on Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s message of resistance, casualisation stories and more. And hot drinks supplied with the necessary heat by our new generator. Let’s not forget that.






The picket line was enlivened by a ‘critical mass’-style cycle rally taking a relaxed tour of local thoroughfares.

Jonathan Skinner from English & Comparative Literary Studies led a poetry reading/workshop, taking its cue from Audre Lorde (“Poetry is not a luxury”). In one exercise, participants ‘mitigated’ the Vice Chancellor’s message of regret that industrial action was taking place by creatively erasing it, revealing the poetic potential in even the most prosaic admin comms.


Bronwen Mehta from Politics spoke about the necessity of struggle relayed by Alaa Abd el-Fattah, Egyptian political prisoner.

The traditional group photo to finish the morning saw us out in force, meeting up with friends and allies from across the university, and lucky so far with the weather.


See you all at the pickets tomorrow. El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!

Strike FAQ for Warwick Students

This is information for all Warwick students who would like to know more about why lecturers, librarians, IT and other professional service staff at Warwick are taking industrial action.

What is the strike about
What is it we want? What would constitute a win?
Why should students care?
How does industrial action affect you?
How can Warwick students help?

What is the strike about? 

There are two reasons why we are striking:  
  • First, to protect staff pensions, which are under renewed attack after the 2018, 2019 dispute(s).
  • Second, to fight for the rights of casualised, female, disabled and BAME staff. Growing numbers of staff are working on short-term or precarious contracts that don’t pay them enough to make ends meet. There is also a persistent gender and racial pay gap. This means that at Warwick, for instance, women earn 74p for every £1 earned by men and BAME staff are paid an average of 25% less than their white colleagues. This action is about stopping the downgrading of pensions, ending casualisation and closing the gender and racial pay gap.

What is it we want? What would constitute a win? 

Our demands are simple:
  • UCU members demand employers to revoke the massive cuts which they imposed on members of the USS pension scheme, and put pressure on USS to restore benefits to 2021 levels as soon as possible.
  • UCU also want UUK to put strong pressure on USS to ensure that the next and all subsequent valuations of the financial health of the scheme to be evidence-based and are moderately prudent.
  •  an increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of at least inflation (RPI) + 2% or 12% whichever is the higher
  • nationally-agreed action, using an intersectional approach, to close the gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps
  • an agreed framework to eliminate precarious employment practices by universities
  • nationally agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work, to include addressing the impact that excessive workloads are having on workforce stress and ill-health
  • for the standard weekly, full-time contract of employment to be 35 hours, with no loss of pay.

These demands are easy to meet. We’re asking UUK (Universities UK, the association of university employers) to work with us to end the rampant levels of inequality in our workplaces and to make sure that people can actually afford to live on the pay for the jobs they do.

Why should students care? 

We know that you have incurred a large debt to attend university. Many of us fought hard against the meteoric rise of tuition fees. But the high fees you pay are not used to pay more to those who teach you. Gaps in gender and BAME pay, casualisation of staff and erosion of staff pensions are part of a decade-long assault on the integrity of universities as public institutions. As a result, we’ve seen the tripling of student fees, a trend toward short-term or sessional contracts at the expense of secure employment, the greater use of outsourcing models  and the ballooning of managerial pay – and with these developments, the persistence of racist and sexist cultures at our university.  

If we want an environment committed to fairness and transparency, where teaching, learning and research – not profit – are at the heart of what we do, then we must collectively take a stand.

How does industrial action affect you? 

Teaching and working with students is why we do this job, so we do not take strike action lightly, any more than nurses or doctors do. The UCU has called for three days of strike action on 24th, 25th and 30th November. On these days:

  • UCU members won’t be teaching, holding office hours, marking or answering emails
  • Any work missed, including teaching, will not be rescheduled
  • Since 14th November 2022, UCU members have been observing action short of a strike (ASOS): this means working to contract, or working only the 36.5 hours per week stipulated in our contracts (most academics work 60+ hours, including weekends)

How can Warwick students help? 

In partnership with Warwick’s Student-Staff Solidarity Network, we will be holding a series of themed events on the picket lines, giving you a chance to join discussions about fees, debt, the future of work and radical alternatives to the status quo. We want you to be part of these activities. Join us! As Emma Goldman almost says, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your demonstration.”

Warwick Students Union voted to support the strikes – as individuals you can too.

If you want to help us stop hugely damaging changes to higher education, here are some ideas:

Remember: the more people support the strike, and the more unified that support, the sooner it’s likely to end.

With that in mind, please:

  • Boycott lectures and seminars on strike days – do not cross the picket line!
  • Join us as sympathetic onlookers/active supporters
  • Help organise alternative student-led events
  • Get in touch with any questions

Solidarity for all – together we can win this!

What is this strike about?: A Q&A primer for talking to students and colleagues

*A PDF version is available here for printing and distribution.

This is a two-ballot campaign, but the issues are united: it is a strike about dignity and equality. It is a strike about casualisation; about the gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps; and it is a strike about whether we will be able to grow old with dignity. These issues are all connected, but we are going to talk a bit about the two ballots separately.


We were just on strike about pensions just less than two years ago? Why are we doing out again?

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) conducted a valuation in March 2020, as markets were crashing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and claimed that contribution rates needed to increase very significantly from the rate of 30.7% of salary (9.6% for members, 21.1% for employers) that was established under the 2018 valuation.

Both UCU and the employer representative, Universities UK (UUK) argued that these increases were not necessary and had not been properly justified. However, instead of continuing to challenge the increases, UUK pushed through major cuts to the guaranteed, defined benefit (DB) element of the scheme to prevent employers from having to pay higher contributions.

The UUK cuts, which were formally voted through in February 2022 and came into force on April 2022, drastically reduced the level of guaranteed retirement income provided to members of USS for their future service (benefits already built up will not change). The cuts affected every active USS member but especially those nearer the start of their careers.

These cuts came in the context of a decade of detrimental changes to USS contributions and benefits. As UCU previously showed, the changes that had already taken effect between 2011 and 2019 would make a typical member of staff £240,000 worse off over the course of their career and retirement. The 2022 cuts from UUK have made things even worse: new research shows that global loss across current USS scheme members is £16-18bn, with those under the age of 40 losing between £100k-£200k each in retirement. It also shows that 196,000 staff will lose between 30%-35% from their guaranteed future retirement income.

UCU is demanding that vice-chancellors order their employer body UUK to revoke these brutal cuts and put pressure on USS to restore benefits to 2021 levels, especially after a drastic improvement to USS finances was revealed by the trustee in March 2022: USS reported assets increasing to over £88bn, and the trustee said that growth outstripped liabilities and that the level of contributions required to service the deficit fell to 0%.

Update, October 2022: The majority of pension benefits lost under cuts drawn up by UUK could be retroactively paid back, returning around £0.5bn to the retirement funds of the 200,000 university staff in the pension scheme. Employer body UUK forced through a package of cuts in April 2022, which included a cut to pension accrual rates and a cap on protection against inflation. But, under pressure from UCU, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) trustee has released new information which shows the scheme is in such a healthy position that those lost benefits could be paid back, backdated to April—and still leave the scheme in surplus.

Pay & Equality

What are UCU’s demands in the pay and working conditions dispute?

On the pay and working conditions dispute, UCU demands:

  • an increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of at least inflation (RPI) + 2% or 12% whichever is the higher
  • nationally-agreed action, using an intersectional approach, to close the gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps
  • an agreed framework to eliminate precarious employment practices by universities
  • nationally agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work, to include addressing the impact that excessive workloads are having on workforce stress and ill-health
  • for the standard weekly, full-time contract of employment to be 35 hours, with no loss of pay.

UCU set out its demands in detail in the annual claim which it presented to employers in March 2022, along with the other unions that represent university staff (UNISON, Unite, GMB, and EIS in Scotland). You can  read the full claim here [399kb], and this sets out the issues in extensive detail and discusses the action which the unions want employers to take. You can also  read the employers’ confirmed final offer for 2022-23 here [295kb].

Please note that, for the pay and working conditions dispute, the union negotiates with Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which is separate from Universities UK (UUK).

Why are we taking action on pay when the employers have offered a 3% pay rise?

The final offer made by Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) is well below inflation (which stands at RPI 12.6% as of September 2022). This means yet another real terms pay cut for staff during the cost of living crisis in the United Kingdom.

The value of pay in higher education fell by 17.6% relative to inflation between 2009 and 2019. You can use UCU’s HE pay modeller to see how much your pay has deteriorated over this period. Based on the employers’ offer and the most recent inflation data, that figure is now approximately 25%. With inflation forecast to keep increasing in the short to medium term, salaries will continue to fall further and further short of the cost of living.

Among other things, UCU is demanding a pay uplift of 12% or Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 2% on all pay points, to keep up with the cost of living and to catch up with pay lost over previous years.

Meanwhile, employers are failing to take effective action to tackle the persistent gender and ethnicity pay gaps that exist in the higher education sector. We need to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate continued pay erosion or pay inequality.

Why is tackling casualisation a priority in the pay dispute? 

According to UCU’s report, ‘Precarious work in higher education’, around one-third of all academic staff are employed on fixed-term contracts; this figure rises to almost half for teaching-only academics (44%) and over two-thirds (68%) for research-only staff. Despite the negative press and widespread campaigning, 18% of all higher education institutions still use zero-hours contracts for employing academic staff (equating to 29 institutions employing 3,545 academic staff on these discredited contracts). Despite the employers’ claim of progress in this area—and important victories achieved by UCU members at Open University and Royal College of Art—precarity and casualisation continue to be rife within higher education.

The use of casual contracts erodes the rights, protections, and security that should be afforded to all employees. Casualisation also makes it much more difficult for staff to challenge employers about key workplace issues, because staff are often reluctant to ‘rock the boat’ and risk their employment being terminated. In fact, according to a February 2022 report from the Joint Committee of Experts of UNESCO and the International Labour Organization, the growth in casualised contracts in higher education has undermined academic freedom itself. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have chosen not to renew casualised contracts and made thousands of staff redundant, while many UCU members who have found work have felt pressured to work in-person or take other risks to keep themselves in employment.

Finally, casualisation has other serious consequences for staff—UCU’s previous research showed that 42% of staff on casual contracts struggled to pay household bills, while many others struggle to make long-term financial commitments like buying a house. In our 2019 survey of 3,802 casualised staff in higher education, 71% of the respondents said their mental health had been damaged by working on insecure contracts and 43% said it had impacted on their physical well-being.

UCU is demanding that employers agree to a framework to eliminate precarious employment practices and casualised contracts, including zero hours contracts, from higher education; converting hourly paid staff onto fractional contracts; agreeing national guidance to end the outsourcing of support services in higher education and to bring staff into in-house employment.

Why are we linking pay, equality, workload and casualisation in one dispute?

The UCU rising campaign is about demanding fair treatment for staff across the higher education sector and a comprehensive remedy for the way in which your working conditions have been undermined over the past decade.

The combination of pay erosion, unmanageable workloads, and the widespread use of insecure contracts has undermined professionalism and made the working environment more stressful for staff.

UCU’s 2021 workload survey (published June 2022) showed that academic staff are working on average 51.3 FTE hours per week (i.e. more than 2 unpaid days each week), academic-related professional services (ARPS) staff are working an average of 44.4 FTE hours per week (i.e. equivalent of one additional unpaid day every week), and staff on fractional contracts can be working 2-3 times the hours that they are paid for each week. Workload has been exacerbated too by ever-increasing administrative burden, reduction in staff members, and the COVID-related changes to teaching and learning: 33% of higher education respondents said their workload was unmanageable most of the time or entirely unmanageable. UCU is demanding agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work; action to address the impact that excessive workloads are having on workforce stress and mental ill-health; that workload models and planning take into account COVID pandemic related changes in working practices. UCU is also demanding that the standard weekly full-time contract of employment to be 35 hours per week at all higher education institutions with no loss of pay.

The pay gap between Black and white staff stands at 17% and the disability pay gap is 9%. The mean gender pay gap is 16% and at the current rate of change it will not be closed for another 22 years. UCU is demanding an end to pay injustice: meaningful, agreed action to tackle the ethnic, gender and disability pay gaps.

Finally, workload, pay inequality and casualisation are all directly interrelated and compound one another. Women, Black and disabled staff were all disproportionately likely to report that their workload had increased, and the same groups are also disproportionately likely to be on casualised rather than permanent contracts.

Don’t we need to campaign for more funding for the sector before we can get a significant pay rise and more investment in staff?

UCU has always campaigned for a better and more fairly funded sector and will continue to do so. However, employers can already afford to invest more in staff with the money they have. The proportion of universities’ money which they spend on staff has decreased over time, hitting a low of 51.6% in 2019-20. Employers are choosing to spend money on other things, rather than suffering from low income in general: university accounts demonstrate that investment in staff has been deprioritised in favour of investment in buildings and the hoarding of increasing reserves, which were £46.9bn in 2019-20, and have more than tripled since 2009-10. University leaders also confirmed to the regulator the Office for Students (OfS) that they were planning to increase overall capital expenditure by 36% this year, to £4.6bn.

At the same time, the sector’s overall income is higher than ever and keeps increasing. It has increased every year for the past five years at a rate that comfortably exceeds every measure of inflation. Admissions from both domestic and non-EU international students have increased. The most recent figures show that the income of higher education institutions rose to £41.1bn in the financial year 2020-21. Universities finished 2020-21 with £3.4bn more cash in the bank than year before. You can use UCU’s HE institution data tool to check the financial status and the head of institution remuneration for the financial year 2020-21.

Employers are wrong to claim that there is no money to offer more than 3% on pay, or move more staff onto permanent contracts, or create more posts to keep workloads under control, or promote and give secure contracts particularly to women and Black and disabled staff.

Finally, UCU is open to solutions that will allow employers to budget ahead and gradually shift the balance of their expenditure in favour of staff over a period of a few years, rather than immediately: for instance, via a multi-year pay agreement, or via medium-term action plans to move more staff onto secure contracts or close the equality pay gaps.

Local Solidarity (Hardship) Fund 2022/23

This is a new post for the 2022 Industrial Action and subject to minor amendments over the coming weeks.

We ask that, where possible, all members who can should donate to the local solidarity or national fighting fund.  Salaried staff who are not in hardship are encouraged to apply to the National fund in the first instance.

Information for the National UCU Fighting Fund 2022

Applications to the local solidarity / hardship fund

For the policies and procedures of the fund, see below. If you are on a STP, GTA or VAM contract, please read carefully what evidence to provide if claiming for strike action (we know it’s a pain, and for us assessing the claims too!).

For MAB claims, we can pay up to £350 of lost income (and will revisit this amount later in the year if our funds remain strong). For STP/GTA members, please submit as evidence of lost income your MAB declaration stating total hours you undertook MAB (either the email sent to or a screenshot of the ASOS form), and then your resulting payslip; we will cover the remainder of the marking hours up to £350.

Please see the links at the bottom of this post to make a claim (yes, we are encouraging everyone to read the content of the post first!).


Warwick UCU has a local hardship – what we refer to as our ‘solidarity’ – fund. The branch has donated funds to this, but we are also seeking donations from members. We are particularly directing this appeal for donations to our members who are either on leave or who are otherwise not expected to be part of the action.

The local solidarity fund is designed to complement the provision from the National Fighting Fund, and where possible to fill in any potential “gaps”. It will prioritise members on hourly paid and other precarious contracts, and support people who would be left financially vulnerable after deductions. The policies and procedures can be found below.

Please direct non-members to this page which asks if they can make a small donation to support their Union colleagues to protect the pension scheme that they are also part of.

Donations can be received by bank transfer or cheque.

For bank transfer the account details are:

UCU Warwick Hardship Fund
60 83 01

 Please quote the reference: “Solidarity Fund”

It would be helpful to also send a remittance advice to  confirming the amount and the name of the donor(s) so we can have a record

Or by Cheque

Please make cheques payable to “UCU Warwick” and send to Treasurer, UCU Office, Avon Building WA1.12, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL.

Policies and procedures of the hardship fund

Warwick UCU Strike committee has determined the following principles of policies and procedures.

The local hardship fund will prioritise those whose annual incomes will be particularly proportionally affected by taking strike action or participating in MAB, especially STP, GTA, weekly paid colleagues, and those on less than £30k per annum. Applications from those who do not have access to substantial forms of other, non-affected income (e.g. scholarships) will be prioritised.

Claiming for MAB related hardship:   When making an application to the fund, salaried colleagues should upload images of payslips with MAB deductions on them.  Deductions will be made by the University from Sept 2023 onwards.

Hourly paid colleagues (GTA’s and those on STP contracts) need to provide a copy of the declaration and the payslip which details the deductions.

Claiming for strike related hardship:

Our fund will award strike pay from the 1st day of strike action, up to a cap of £75 per strike day. This will be interpreted to mean that each day where the strike occurs, and where no work has been undertaken, will be treated as a strike day (independent of whether there was formal work scheduled on these days).

These amounts (£75 x number of days of strike participation) are the maximum amounts to which the aforementioned members can apply for; however, there is no guarantee that we will be able to pay those full amounts. That will depend on the amount of claims received and funds available.

Salaried staff earning over £30k per annum and who are not in hardship are encouraged to apply to the National fund in the first instance. If national funds are not available, local fund applications can be made, and these are capped at £50 per day for staff earning over £30k per annum.

We are continuing to raise funds and the hardship fund will concentrate its funding on the first days and weeks of strike action; and we will then support members’ applications to the national fighting fund for the remainder of the strike duration.

There will be no first come first serve handout for payments, but a deadline for claims advertised that will ensure fair treatment, while it will be possible to get urgent treatment.

Please note that hardship payments are disbursed to compensate members for losses they suffer linked to taking official strike action. We cannot make payments in excess of compensating those losses. We will assess appropriate payment amounts as part of the application process.

Make a claim for lost earning due to industrial action and MAB

New for MAB 2023

Apply to the Local Hardship fund using our updated form for MAB: UCU Warwick: Solidarity Fund Form, MAB (2023).

For Autumn Term Strike action

Please use the link below to apply to the Local Hardship fund for industrial action taken in Term 1 of 2022/23.
UCU Warwick: Solidarity Fund Form, Strike Action (2022-23).

Academic Freedom and the Sacking of Professor David Miller

The following Emergency Motion was passed by the Warwick UCU Branch Committee on 28th October 2021.

Emergency motion: Academic Freedom and the Sacking of Professor David Miller

Warwick University UCU branch committee expresses its deep concern about the University of Bristol’s dismissal of Professor David Miller without clarity about the reasons for their decision.

We oppose antisemitism and racism of all kinds and support the legal principle that universities should prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation of individuals on the basis of their race, ethnicity or religion, or other protected characteristics, as they are obliged to under the 2010 Equality Act. 

We also note that universities have legal obligations to secure academic freedom within the law according to Section 2(8)(c) of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, which states that academic staff at English higher education providers have ‘the freedom within the law … (i) to question and test received wisdom, and (ii) to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges they may have at the providers.’ This is, for good reason, a very high threshold of legal protection (see our Academic Freedom Explainer).

In this context, we note that the statement issued by the University of Bristol on 1 October reported that an independent QC found that Professor Miller’s comments were lawful and no statement has otherwise been made about the specific grounds for his dismissal.

In light of that fact, and in the absence of any indication by the University of Bristol of the ways in which Professor Miller’s behaviour has been deemed sufficiently sub-standard to merit dismissal, and even as some of our members may strongly disagree with Professor Miller’s utterances, we are concerned that Professor Miller’s dismissal appears to be a violation of the right to freedom of expression and the right to academic freedom. 

Professor Miller’s case is occurring in a context in which there are ongoing controversies in the higher education sector about the relationship between academic freedom and dignity.  The University of Bristol’s actions are a cause for concern among our members because they may establish a precedent for how other universities deal with complaints against academics, other university staff and students relating to their lawful speech, academic research and/or teaching. It is urgent that Bristol clarifies the specific grounds for this dismissal. If Professor Miller has been fired for his  research, teaching or comments in contravention of his right to academic freedom or freedom of speech, then the university  should reinstate him immediately.

This branch resolves to urgently:


  • write to the University of Bristol, calling for clarification of why Professor Miller’s actions   merited dismissal and in the case that Professor Miller’s dismissal contravenes the right to academic freedom or freedom of expression, to call for his immediate reinstatement; 


  • express publicly its concern about the circumstances and implications of this case; and


  • call on the General Secretary and President of UCU to write on behalf of UCU to the Vice-Chancellor at Bristol calling for clarification of why Professor Miller’s actions merited dismissal and in the case that Professor Miller’s dismissal contravenes the right to academic freedom or freedom of expression, to call for  the immediate reinstatement of Professor Miller.


Warwick UCU supports Protect Warwick Women

Since 18 March 2021, University of Warwick students led by Protect Warwick Women (PWW) have been protesting the University’s failure to adequately respond to, and prevent, sexual misconduct at the University. Starting with a sit-in on the central campus piazza they have since moved to occupy University House. 

PWW’s demands, which focus on such critical issues as training for campus security and students, signposted safe spaces, better support for those who experience sexual assault, and more appropriate penalties for those who are found guilty of sexual assault, all focus on urgent matters that would help to make the University safer for all students and staff.  

Warwick UCU stands in solidarity with student protestors and calls on the University to enter into immediate and intensive discussions with PWW and other stakeholders. These discussions should focus – not on how to end the protests – but on how to address the problem of sexual assault and the University’s support to survivors, so as to ensure a culture and environment in which all students and staff feel safe, and which all members of the University can be proud.

Threats to academic freedom

Warwick UCU Branch Committee calls on MPs to withdraw threats to academic freedom and to specific academics made to the Education Select Committee and apologise to those affected.

On Tuesday 27th April at a meeting of the Education Select Committee, Jonathan Gullis MP called for political interference in academic research, over-riding of employment law, and summary political sackings of university staff. While claiming to make these calls in defence of Jewish students, he belied his real motivations, as he himself recently used anti-semitic arguments to call for the suppression of academic freedom in a separate case.

Tory MPs threatening to sack academics and cut funding
In an inappropriate and unsubstantiated attack, Jonathan Gullis called for the summary dismissal of three specific members of University of Warwick staff, whom he named.

Gullis made the following statement ( : 

“Stuart Croft, the Vice Chancellor, was the biggest embarrassment to students at his University, we need to go further than just fining, we need to start sacking people and Stuart Croft, and Dr Goldie Osuri, and Professor Virinder Karla [sic] need to go to be quite frank.”

Both the Chair of the Education Committee, Robert Halfon MP, and the Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, appeared to endorse this position. The Minister explained to Mr Gullis that it is not possible for government ministers to “sack” VCs or academics, but went on to say, “I agree with you, certain universities do need to go further on this area”, while Robert Halfon suggested that universities were “hiding behind employment law” in failing to sack academics. 

Wholly inappropriate intervention
This exchange at the Education Select Committee was a wholly inappropriate and flagrantly political attack on academic freedom and democracy. It is deeply concerning that MPs should be attempting to interfere in university employment and academic freedom in this way, and we do not think that this is an isolated attack on the work of these specific scholars, but part of a sustained attack on critical thinking which is likely to continue unless robustly opposed. 

It parallels the Education Secretary’s call for a “Freedom of Speech Champion” for universities, which would apparently only support freedom of particular kinds of speech valued by government ministers, without regard for the safety or dignity of students, staff or wider university communities.

As with reports that the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden would deny future funding to academic research into colonial histories by a specific Professor, which were prompted by calls from the so-called “Common Sense” group of which Gullis is a member, this is a worrying sign of how little the current government and its MPs value freedom of thought and democracy. These anti-democratic instincts to stifle scholarly research must be resisted.

It is important to note that both Dr Goldie Osuri and Professor Virinder Kalra are internationally recognised scholars who are well known for their research and civic work on anti-racism and anti-colonialism.

The claims by these MPs to be defending Jewish students is all the more galling in light of the fact that Gullis was a signatory to a recent letter from the so-called “Common Sense Group” of MPs who proposed cutting funding for historical research into Britain’s national heritage because they didn’t agree with the findings, referring in their statements to “cultural Marxist dogma”, a reference to a far-right anti-semitic conspiracy theory commonly used to attack critical scholars in the humanities and social sciences. 

We call on Jonathan Gullis MP to:

  1. Withdraw his anti-democratic call for political interference in university life
  2. Apologise to the academics he has targeted with threats
  3. Apologise for his endorsement of an anti-semitic conspiracy theory

We further call on Michelle Donelan MP and Robert Halfon MP to:

  1. Apologise for apparently condoning calls by a member of the Education Select Committee for political interference in university life, including threats towards individual academics
  2. Commit to upholding the principle that scholarly research should be free from political interference