Dear Vice Chancellor,
We, the undersigned, are members of Oxford Brookes University.
As staff and students, we are united in frustration by the failures of leadership across higher education that have led to recent industrial action. We are dismayed by the prospect of further industrial action. Given the lack of constructive progress on issues of pensions and pay, further action is likely to include marking boycotts and delayed graduations.
We write to recommend three actions that we believe will lead to a resolution of industrial disputes before further disruption occurs.
- Withdraw your support for the Universities UK pension reduction plan, and push other Vice Chancellors to follow suit.
It is unacceptable that you have chosen to support the Universities UK plan based on a March 2020 pension scheme valuation, and which pushes through dramatic cuts to your colleagues’ pensions. In March 2020, at the nadir of a pandemic-driven market slump, the pension scheme assets were valued at £66.5bn; according to USS’s own figures, assets are now valued at around £90bn, placing the scheme on solid foundations. A lawsuit against the pension trustees, charging abuse of power and negligent inefficiency, is ongoing in the High Court. In this context, it is impossible to understand how you can continue with your current path. We hope that you find recent clarifications of the UCU alternative to be of use.
- Make public your support for a fair pay settlement for all higher education staff, and a sector-wide approach to address casualisation of employment.
It is unacceptable that more-than-a-decade of real terms cuts to lecturers’ pay scales are set to be continued. Additionally, the number of colleagues undertaking teaching, research, and other duties without secure employment is unacceptable. We urge you to work with other Vice Chancellors to secure a sector-wide framework to address pay and casualisation.
- Agree a sector-wide framework for addressing gender, ethnicity, and disability pay gaps.
It is unacceptable that across the sector men earn 16% more than women, white staff earn 17% more than their Black colleagues, and that the disability pay gap is estimated at 16%. We urge you to work to secure a sector-wide framework to monitor and address these clear material injustices.
We look forward to your response, which can be delivered to and then disseminated by Oxford Brookes University UCU branch.