University and College Union (UCU) members at the University of Leicester have voted no confidence in vice chancellor Nishan Canagarajah and the university’s executive board.
The vote, at a meeting attended by over 200 staff, comes in response to a threat of widespread redundancies.
Up to 145 staff at the University of Leicester risk redundancy, with around 60 of those likely to lose their jobs, according to the UCU. Subjects targeted include early modern and medieval literature, pure maths, and political economy.
The union argued that the cuts would risk the livelihoods of staff, damage academic freedom and worsen students’ learning conditions, and dubbed the decision to go ahead with them during the ongoing pandemic ‘cruel and divisive’.
As well as the vote of no confidence, UCU members also unanimously passed a motion declaring their willingness to ballot for sustained industrial action to prevent the redundancies.
“Axing jobs is wrong at the best of times, but for the University of Leicester to do so in the middle of this pandemic is particularly vindictive and self-defeating,” said UCU general secretary Jo Grady.
“After working flat out to keep the university running throughout the Covid crisis, 145 staff are being rewarded with threats to their jobs and livelihoods.
“In planning to shut down entire courses, the university is also imperilling its international reputation. Singling out specific disciplines for cuts harms academic freedom, and will diminish both teaching and research. The vice chancellor and executive board must withdraw the threats of redundancies, and guarantee the job security of all staff in affected departments.”
Leicester UCU chair Sarah Seaton added: ‘The vice chancellor has said that now is the ‘perfect moment’ for the university to ‘shape for excellence’. But staff are now facing a triple workload crisis. We were overworked before Covid. Then we struggled through the pandemic, continuing to educate and support our students, even as university managers abandoned hundreds of our casualised colleagues. Now they are threatening 145 more staff with the chop.
“We are all working around the clock to support our students and each other. The university cannot afford to make any of us redundant.”
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