Published: 2nd August, 2018
-the producers: academics, professional and technical staff
-the product: teaching, publications, marketing paperwork, finance documentation, storage systems
-the users: students
We academics have expertise and experience in the subjects we have devoted our lives to, that cannot be boxed into a generic supply/demand economic model.
Academics’ work has impacted on society and shapes collective basic and commercially applicable areas of knowledge. Academics create the product that the University relies on. Without us, there is no product and we cannot serve our users, students.
We as support staff are the background and core of the University. Support staff’s work is to support students and academic staff, the core producers and users of the University. Support staff also create products i.e. marketing materials and a huge number of systems that most of us know nothing about.
Despite this, academics and support staff are treated as the least respected members of the University, and as is happening across over 20 UK Universities this summer, are being told that our work is not necessary for the University to run.
We as academics and support staff are being told, furthermore, that because of a range of Business Cases prepared by management and an opaque body of decisionmakers that our work does not meet appropriate business standards, standards that apparently dictate the possibility for the key producers and supporters who are the backbone of the University, to continue to earn a decent livelihood and to respect the dedication and loyalty that these people have invested over many years.
During this period of consultation, UCU members have already discovered that the Business Case statistics being used to represent student numbers, course sizes and workload adjustments, are simply incorrect. This brings into question the rationale for restructuring and the priorities of management.
Management have already begun to use casualised workers to fill gaps in teaching and administration that are already arising. This will get worse if staff are laid off. This proves that our work is not currently in duplicate and we are thus not ourselves redundant. Instead, the University simply does not want to pay for, nor invest in its hardworking staff.
The University is furthermore not in any financial danger, so again, the reasons for putting our jobs at risk are simply not justifiable.
The Business Cases we are being presented with do not cohere with the values of learning, research and teaching; do not cohere to the values of community and knowledge-building. Instead, academics are being told explicitly that the courses we teach and run, and the publications and other forms of research dissemination are not worthy of investment and the incredible support staff who provide the foundations for these tasks; are not vital to the running of the University. Instead, potentially unnecessary new buildings and gadgets are more important.
We have been told that the University’s credit rating is more important than our own contributions to the futures of our students, who would have nothing to study and no support without us. This is a flawed argument that calls into question the University’s moral standing and betrays its loyalties to market forces rather than students’ and staff’s basic needs and rights. Students are not going to want to come to a University that treats its staff in this way and parents are not going to want to pay to support it.
Leicester management: please rethink these Business Cases taking the above points into account.