On 5 August, 2020 the Chair of Warwick UCU submitted a requisition, signed by 25 members of the Assembly, to the Vice Chancellor calling for an extraordinary assembly to discuss a motion on the proposed cuts to the Sessional Budget. This motion calls on the University to recognise that sessional teaching staff jobs are jobs, and to pause the cuts to the sessional teaching budget until proper consultations have taken place, an Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out, and other proposals to make up the budget shortfall have been considered. You can read the motion we put forward below:
Assembly Motion: Protect the Jobs of Sessional Teachers & Casualised Staff
This Assembly notes that:
- In his very first message on 19 March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 crisis, Stuart Croft pledged that Warwick will protect jobs. But the Provost, Chris Ennew, has announced plans to cut the Sessional Teaching (STP) budget by 50% in order to save £5 million, or 10% of the University’s proposed £50m savings.
- There are currently over 3,600 people employed on STP contracts who are affected by these cuts.
- This £5m savings will cut over 50,000 hours of PGR teaching, marking and preparation alone. This shortfall will need to be made up, increasing pressure on workload for permanent and fixed-term staff.
- The University has repeatedly claimed to have a longstanding commitment to improving the employment conditions of casualised staff.
- Over 500 staff members signed an open letter calling on the University to commit to a modest salary sacrifice scheme for the most highly-paid staff in order to protect staff workloads and the integrity of our educational offerings, and to protect the jobs of junior colleagues, as has been done at numerous other higher education institutions (e.g. KCL and Edinburgh) and by key business partners of Warwick, such as Jaguar Land Rover. The government’s Department for Education has also called on Universities to cut executive pay. Council has responded by reiterating that it was choosing to “protect jobs” by reducing “the sessional teaching budget” in their email response from 20 July.
- According to the May 2020 UCU Precarity Report, 43% of teaching-only contracts at Warwick are sessional (hourly-paid), and 18% of BAME colleagues are on STP contracts, compared with only 14% of white colleagues. Yet senior management presented these cuts to Heads of Department without consulting Trade Unions or Senate about their financial basis or academic impact; no Equality Impact Assessment has been shared or circulated for consultation purposes.
This Assembly believes that:
- Staff on STP and casualised contracts play a key role in delivering high quality teaching at the University of Warwick. Cutting these jobs will be counterproductive to achieving the University’s educational strategy and will grossly harm student experience, both in the short and the long term.
- These cuts will put an entire generation of junior scholars in jeopardy: many STP and casualised staff are current PhDs, postdocs, early career or other precarious academics who rely on this work for career development as well as remuneration.
- The loss of STP hours alongside the need to prepare f2f, online and blended learning options will create increased workload pressures on permanent and fixed term colleagues, and will compromise staff wellbeing.
- The University has not addressed workload in its current wellbeing strategy.
- The decision to cut 50% of the sessional teaching budget has a significant impact on the academic life of the University and thus requires the agreement of Senate before going to Council.
- Cutting these jobs will undermine the University’s stated commitments to diversity, equality and inclusion, both because casualised contracts are disproportionately held by BAME and female academics and because the resulting workload increase will inevitably affect those staff with care commitments and the heaviest workloads.
This assembly resolves that:
- The University of Warwick set a positive example to the sector, deliver on its commitments to better the employment conditions of casualised staff and protect all jobs on campus by acknowledging, with a public statement, that sessional teaching staff jobs are in fact jobs.
- Cuts to sessional teaching should be paused until a complete Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out and any mitigation strategies implemented.
- Cuts should be paused until proper consultations have been carried out with Senate and with Trade Unions.
- Cuts to the STP budget should be considered only as a last resort, once all other avenues have been exhausted and Senate has approved an academic quality mitigation strategy.
Proposed by Myka Tucker-Abramson
Seconded by Michael Saward