Posted on Tue 22 Oct 2019 at 11:12 by Christopher Carter
UCU (University and College Union) currently have two open ballots in Higher Education. These are significant for students and academics alike, since academics’ teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions! It is also important to remember that many postgraduate students exist as both students and staff.
The first ballot concerns the USS dispute. Many of you who were around in 2018 (or at another university) will remember the 14-day strike over USS pensions. UCU will be balloting once again over the proposed changes to USS. UCU has explained the USS dispute here so that you can learn more about this issue!
The second ballot is over pay, workloads and equality. UCU are balloting for fair treatment of staff in Higher Education, fighting against casualisation, unmanageable workloads and pay erosion & inequality. UCU states that more than 100,000 teaching staff on casual contracts report they are only paid for 55% of the work they do. This issue is particularly important for postgraduate students, since many of our postgraduates who teach will be on casual contracts. You can read more about this here.
These two issues clearly demonstrate how the ongoing marketization of Higher Education contributes to the casualisation of University staff. For many postgraduate students, careers in academia are our long-term goals, so we need to fight for a Higher Education system that we want to be a part of. The NUS has announced they stand ‘shoulder to shoulder with UCU’ so, as students and members of Warwick SU, I encourage all students to engage with these issues. If I were eligible, I would be voting ‘Yes’ in both these ballots, and encourage all postgraduate students who are members of UCU to read up on these issues and use their vote.
Postgraduate Students in HE who are part of the teaching and assessing team (but not on lecturing contracts) are eligible to sign up for free membership to UCU. Balloting is open until 30th October, so you should post your vote by no later than 28th October – however, to get your ballot paper you need to sign up as a member and submit a ballot request by 23rd October. As members of UCU, it is your right to cast a vote in the ballot and have your say.