News from Warwick SU

Protect Our People campaign launches

Warwick SU is launching a campaign calling on the University to protect our students, staff and the local community in their response to COVID19. Our demands are threefold:

  1. Reinstate the Sessional Teaching budget, which could be achieved through a modest pay reduction for staff earning over £90,000 a year.
  2. Move to online only teaching in term 1, to protect students, staff and the local community, with the exception of labs and other classes where it is pedagogically impossible.
  3. Waive the rent of all rent strikers with no further action, legally or academically.

Though the University needs to reduce its expenditure in these difficult financial times, it is imperative that this should not disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people on our campus. This goes against our community values as well as prior assurances given by the University. These include keeping campus and the surrounding communities safe and holding themselves to account.

Cuts to the Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP) will reduce the standard of teaching and support available to students in what will already be a challenging year for learning & teaching. The planned 50% reduction in this budget will eliminate 50,000 hours of teaching, marking and preparation, sharply increasing the workload on permanent staff to infeasible levels and reducing their ability to provide high quality teaching and support for  students. It will impact 3,600 people on precarious contracts, the majority of whom are postgraduate students themselves, completing Masters or PhD courses and relying on this income to make ends meet. Ending their contracts or cutting their hours has a huge effect on their livelihoods and may force some early career academics to leave the profession. Education should be accessible to all, and the University’s proposals severely jeopardise this. Hence, we are proposing modest cuts to senior management salaries, to ensure that vulnerable students and staff do not suffer disproportionately as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.

At Warwick SU, our priority has always been, and always will be, the experience and education of our student members. In light of recent scientific evidence from Independent SAGE, government SAGE and the British Medical Journal, case studies from American campuses (where students return earlier than we do the UK) and the increasing number of  COVID19 cases in the UK, we now believe that the University's currently advertised plans are inadequate to ensure a safe reopening for both students and staff. As such, in line with national unions including the UCU and NUS, we are calling for remote learning as the norm this term. We understand that some students may be disheartened by this demand and will have been looking forward to returning to face-to-face university life this month, but we believe that online teaching remains the only safe way to proceed. We are also aware that some students may struggle with online learning, for reasons including digital poverty and disability, and we will also be campaigning strongly to mitigate the impact of online learning on them. We will be putting out a survey to capture your concerns in detail and plan accordingly.

Thirdly, we are demanding that the University waive the rent of the remaining rent strikers who have been calling for Warwick Accommodation to release students from off-campus accommodation contracts as they did for on-campus accommodation, and confirm that they will not be punished legally or academically for their actions. No one rent strikes because they want to, it is done out of financial necessity. In many cases, these students were no longer able to live in their accommodation and could not return due to national restrictions. Given that many students have found themselves in tough financial situations due to the COVID19 pandemic, the University should show understanding and compassion when dealing with the most vulnerable members of their community.

Warwick; Protect Our People!

  • Reinstate the Sessional Teaching budget.
  • Move to online only teaching in Term 1.
  • Waive the rent of all rent strikers.

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