We the undersigned are writing to complain about the mistreatment of the university’s staff, and the fact that their mistreatment has led to such a major impact on our education. We wholeheartedly believe that the staff are the greatest asset to the university. The fact that they have been forced to take strike action shines a harsh light on the lack of care UEA’s executive and you, our Vice Chancellor, have for university staff.
We chose to come to UEA in large part due to the fantastic staff we have on campus, many of whom are young academics at the start of their careers pioneering important and valuable research. The current proposals to change their pensions and reduce their retirement income by £10,000 a year on average are dangerous. Many current students who may have otherwise chosen to become academics could be driven away by these changes. Supporting these changes seems hypocritical, coming from a university pushing forward an ongoing campaign to retain students for postgraduate degrees which often lead to a career in academia.
Our understanding is that the university’s representatives, having initially proposed the complete elimination of the guaranteed pension, have refused to move at all towards the union’s positions. As a result, 88% of UCU members voted to take strike action. This action is being supported unanimously by the UEA SU, and we hope to help you realise that the students want our lecturers to be valued, not just for our own sakes as future academics, but for the sake of research and progress. As things stand, the University of East Anglia has alienated its staff, and failed us as students by supporting the current USS proposals.
As a representative of UUK, you can influence negotiations with UCU. Rather than remaining silent, we urge you to agree to resume national negotiations with UCU with immediate effect and ask that you put the wages which would have been paid to the striking staff into a student hardship fund, for the sake of your university staff and your students.
Click here if you wish to add your name to this Open Letter.
Featured image of students at UEA. Source: Kirsty Webb / Twitter
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