UCU calls for ‘global boycott’ of Leicester University

UCU wants academics and institutions across the globe to sever relationships with the university by refusing invitations, partnerships, collaborations and jobs

The University and College Union (UCU) has called for a “global boycott” of the University of Leicester in its long-running dispute with university management over proposed redundancies and alleged financial mismanagement.

UCU wants academics and institutions across the globe to sever relationships with the university by refusing invitations, partnerships, collaborations and jobs.

UCU wants academics to ignore jobs advertised at Leicester, turn down invites to speak at or organise conferences or lectures at the university, and refuse positions as visiting professors, external examiners or researchers.

It also asks that academics stop writing for journals edited at or produced by Leicester, and refuse to collaborate on new research projects with the university.

The union launched its boycott, calling on its members, other trade unions, labour movement organisations and the international academic community to support its members at Leicester.

A University of Leicester spokesperson said the announcement was “regrettable”.

The statement continued: “Our priority remains ensuring our current students can complete their assessments for this academic year, and that our finalists can graduate and take the next steps in their journey.

“We have asked UCU to meet us on several occasions, but so far they have declined. However, we will continue to try and engage with them.”

The university was “greylisted” by the union this morning as Leicester UCU members begin a marking and assessment boycott following a vote to support industrial action. UCU hopes the action taken by staff will affect students’ graduations this summer. 

Leicester UCU announced that 69.7% of those members that voted support strike action, and 84.1% support action short of a strike. The vote exceeded the legal minimum threshold, achieving a turnout of 56.3%.

The ballot followed an announcement by the university that 145 staff faced compulsory redundancy: the university expects 60 jobs to go. UCU claims the university has not been transparent about its financial position.

[Vice-chancellor Nishan Canagarajah] is ruining the name of a great institution
– Dr Sarah Seaton, Leicester UCU

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “We will not stand back and allow the University of Leicester to be destroyed by dismal management. Nor will we allow staff and students to pay the price for catastrophic failures of governance. 

“It is rare for UCU to call for a global academic boycott, and doing so reflects the seriousness of the situation. Leicester staff have the support of the whole union in their ongoing action; we all stand alongside them in this fight against brutal job cuts. The university needs to lift its threat of compulsory redundancies if it wants to end this dispute.” 

Leicester UCU chair Dr Sarah Seaton said: “No one takes this action lightly but we must protect jobs and student learning conditions. It is incredible that vice-chancellor Nishan Canagarajah has allowed the dispute to reach this stage instead of working with us to protect jobs. He is ruining the name of a great institution.”

A spokesperson for Leicester University said a few weeks ago that the university “regrets” the strike vote, but would maintain “efforts to ensure there is continued dialogue”.

“It is important that we minimise the impact of any action on our staff and students. As we look to welcome our students back onto campus, it is now our priority that we support them in their end-of-year assessments and ensure our final-year students can graduate. We will continue to work with staff to minimise the number of staff redundancies through our consultation process,” the spokesperson added. 

Read more: Profile: Jo Grady, UCU general secretary

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