Lobby a Lord today!

5034760960_6254b4cd1b_bThe Second Reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill in the House of Lords will take place on 6 December.

Members of the House of Lords rely on information from the public.

Please help them stand up for Higher Education.

Send a letter to a Lord today explaining why you believe the HE Bill will be so damaging to HE.

What you can do

See also

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Letter

Casualisation is a symptom of a sector-wide crisis

(submitted to Guardian 17 November)

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The disgrace of casualisation, whilst Vice Chancellors and Principals award themselves salaries multiple times that of the Prime Minster, was graphically and accurately portrayed (University Staff Contracts ‘like Sports Direct’, Guardian 17th November).

Moral outrage will be insufficient, however, to challenge this common, sector-wide approach to abusive contracts in higher and further education. We are not dealing with a rogue employer such as Mike Ashley at Sports Direct, or Sir Philip Green at BHS. We are dealing with employers across both the higher and further education sectors, who are driven by the goals of rising turnover and continued expansion, all to be paid for by rising tuition fees and continued reductions in staffing costs.

It is not an irony lost on the hundreds of thousands of staff in our universities and colleges that, while they are required to be flexible, not a single Vice Chancellor or Principal in the country is on a casualised contract themselves! Continue reading

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Third Reading of HE Bill – Monday 21 November

The Third Reading of the HE Bill in the House of Commons will be this Monday 21 November.

Lobby of Parliament

Monday 21 November
Assemble: Parliament Square, 1pm

parlt-lobbyCalled by the Convention for Higher Education and London Region UCU. Supported by the UCU, CDBU and CPU (more tba).

After the Third Reading, the Bill will go to the House of Lords, which may propose amendments, and then return to the House of Commons for the Final Reading.

The debate is scheduled between 14:30 and 16:30.

WATCH THIS SPACE >> More information will appear on our website http://heconvention.wordpress.com as we have it.

Facebook event A6 leaflet x 4 (PDF)

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Videos of Brighton Convention event

What is wrong with the Higher Education and Research Bill?

Here are four videos of speeches at a Brighton event organised to publicise, both to staff and students and to the general public, the damage to the quality and character of Higher Education consequent on the proposed structures for the HE sector in the future.


Tom Hickey (Alternative White Paper and HE Convention)


Sorana Vieru (NUS Vice President for HE)

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The Higher Education and Research Bill Comes to Lancaster! – Julie Hearn

At Lancaster University we held a series of three successful events over the course of a week (19-26 October 2016) to raise awareness of the Higher Education and Research Bill and the united opposition to it, culminating in the national demonstration #Nov19. We had a rally, a ‘teach-in’ and a ‘teach-out’ with UCU members, staff, the students’ union, students, the local NUT association and local MP taking part.

Campus lunchtime ‘Teach-In’

campusmeetingonhebill20oct16Our ‘teach-in’ was a lunch-hour panel discussion with Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood MP) Liz Lawrence (UCU past president) and Rhiannon Llystyn Jones (Lancaster University Students Union). Each speaker gave a ten minute presentation and then we had over a dozen insightful questions from the audience. The meeting was reported in the campus alternative newsletter, Subtext, which drops into the email boxes of hundreds of staff. It noted that it was ‘still very rare’ to have an all-female panel and that the general consensus was that the Bill was a ‘solution looking for a problem.’

Community evening ‘Teach-Out’

This was jointly hosted by Lancaster UCU and Lancaster, Morecambe and District NUT. Our speakers this time were Mark Campbell (victimised and sacked UCU chair at London Metropolitan University), Siobhan Collingwood (local NUT head-teacher) and Jenni Dybell (Lancaster University student). Our aim was to show how the HE Bill was part of a wider government push to commodify education from nursery to university, affecting everyone. The meeting heard powerful examples of how destructive this is on our young people, particularly from working class backgrounds, in terms of exclusion, mental health and poverty. It was good to have the opportunity to share our common concerns, making us all the more determined to fight the continuing marketization of learning.

lancs-sol-lmet

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After the Third Convention – what next?

The Convention for Higher Education met at University College London on 15 October.

This Third Convention was a working meeting discussing the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill and organising against it.

Headlines

Delegates agreed that the Convention will call a Lobby of the Third Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons. Convention representatives are already working with the NUS, UCU, CDBU and Gordon Marsden’s office in the Committee Stages.

The Third Reading could be soon – in a matter of two or three weeks.

The Bill will then go to the House of Lords, which will require further lobbying. Baroness Alison Wolf said that we should not be anxious about lobbying the Lords – they relied on people lobbying them to get information.

Important Note: Even when the Bill has passed to the Lords, this does not mean we should not lobby MPs. MPs will get another vote on the Bill when it comes back to the House of Commons at the end of the process.

On 19 November, NUS and UCU have called a National Demonstration for Education. The Third Convention welcomed speakers from the NUS to talk about their campaign and to support the building of it. This unity needed to be carried through on the campuses against the Bill.

The Convention also agreed a strong statement condemning the Home Secretary for suggesting that it was a good idea to limit international student recruitment to UK universities, and even worse – to use the TEF to do so.

What can we all do to try to stop the Bill?

Organise meetings on our campuses and in our communities. Our first task is to bring people together who want to do something. We can all circulate the link to the ‘College, Inc.’ video to colleagues, include a link to the HE Convention website, and ask them if they’d like to help organise a meeting about the HE Bill.

  • If you are a student, contact your student union. The NUS is campaigning against the Bill. What do student officers think? Will they email students to advertise the meeting?
  • If you are a staff member, approach the UCU, EIS and other campus unions. They all have policy against the HE Bill and will email members to advertise the meeting if you ask nicely!

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Third Convention Report

Introduction

Prof John Holmwood opened the Convention on behalf of the Steering Committee, explaining what had happened since the Second Convention, the Alternative White Paper and the campaign over the summer.

This Convention included representatives of the NUS and colleagues from FE, and the discussion and debate reflected this.

1. Why you should oppose the HE Bill

In the first session, Baroness Alison Wolf, Prof Martin McQuillan (Deputy VC, Kingston) and Malia Bouattia (NUS President) all spoke on the Bill, what was wrong with it, and which arguments were likely to be successful with MPs.

Alison spoke about MPs’ perceptions of universities: high fees meant universities were booming at the expense of the taxpayer, teaching was not always high quality, so needed evaluating by market mechanisms such as the TEF, and that VCs and academics were perceived to be motivated by self-interest. These arguments needed to be countered. There was little recognition in Government that the HE Bill would undermine academic freedom – or what that might mean in practice. She reminded colleagues of the terrible situation in Turkey where Deans were being sacked and academics arrested.

Martin talked about the VCs’ timidity in challenging Government. They were perceived by MPs as operating entirely self-interestedly in arguing for a rise in tuition fees, and they had lost a lot of credibility. With respect to the Referendum debate they had found themselves on the ‘wrong’ side in Government. The student loan system was bad for students, for taxpayers and for universities. He said that there was a fundamental problem of intergenerational injustice, as MPs who had free education were pushing the next generation into a lifetime of debt.

Speaking for the National Union of Students, Malia spoke about the need to build an alliance with students and parents. The NUS has been organising against the Green Paper and the Bill, and the national officers have been speaking up and down the country to Student Unions to try to get them to take it up. The NUS is also consulting with SUs about a boycott of the National Student Survey (which the Government wants to use as a TEF factor). Students are expected to be complicit in awarding universities high marks for satisfaction, and thereby allowing them to raise tuition fees! Continue reading

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