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UCU Scotland Congress 2014

Friday 28 March 2014, Stirling

Lecturers welcome student support in university pay row

Resolutions of the 8th UCU Scotland Congress


Purpose of rule change:

In the event that a branch/local association meeting which is called for the purpose of approving motions to UCU Scotland Congress is not quorate, this rule change enables the branch to approve motions via a quorate meeting of the branch/local association committee, or for the quorate committee to approve an alternative means of ascertaining the views of members in order to approve motions.

Standing Order rule 10:

Add a new 3rd paragraph to rule 10:

"Where a branch/local association general meeting called for the purpose of approving motions for submission to UCU Scotland Congress is not quorate, a quorate meeting of the branch/local association committee may approve these motions for submission, or may approve an alternative means of ascertaining the views of members in order to approve such motions. In these circumstances the motions and the committee's decisions must be circulated to all members of the branch/local association. The officer submitting the motions must certify the way in which the motions were approved."


Purpose of Rule Change:

To clarify that the same rules apply to the submission of amendments to UCU Scotland Congress as for motions.

Standing Order rule 11:

Add new 1st paragraph to rule 11:

"Amendments submitted by branches/local associations must be approved by the same means as motions as set out in Standing Order 10 above, or by a quorate meeting of the branch/local association committee. The officer submitting the amendment must certify the way in which the amendment was approved."


Congress welcomes the production of UCU Scotland's "Manifesto for Scotland's Referendum" which clearly identifies the issues facing higher education in Scotland and presents UCU's vision for a publicly funded education system, where ability to learn and not income determine participation.    

While it is inevitable that political debate within Scotland is currently being viewed through the lens of the forthcoming independence referendum, this presents an opportunity for UCU Scotland to be objective and critical in our analysis of all sides of the debate.  In addition, it presents an opportunity to outline our case for an appropriately funded and well governed higher education system, where staff are valued and supported.   

Congress notes that UCU members also have an important role to play in the debate, as academics and scholars with research and knowledge expertise.  It is essential that they are able to contribute to the referendum debate under the guiding academic freedom principles. 

Congress restates UCU Scotland's position of neutrality within the independence debate and urges all branches and members to engage in a critical and considered way in the referendum debate.  Congress calls on the UCU Scotland Executive to make full use of the Manifesto in continuing to campaign in support of Scotland's public higher education system and the rights of our members.


UCU Scotland welcomes the contribution made by University staff in adding to the debate on the forthcoming referendum on independence for Scotland. Staff from across the university sector in Scotland have been prominent in ensuring an objective, academic view is developed to help inform voters in reaching an informed decision. We welcome the UCU Scotland manifesto which calls on all sides of the constitutional debate to outline their commitment to Scotland's universities and to publicly support adequate funding for Scotland's universities, to back Scotland's four-year honours degrees and to reject student tuition fees. This meeting calls on UCU Scotland to build on this work so far and help shape the debate around the referendum by holding a series of debates on this fundamentally important issue for the future of the Country, Higher Education and UCU.


Congress notes the inadequate response of University Courts in Scotland to the von Prondzynski review of Governance, and agrees to increase our campaigning for transforming university governance and for increase accountability of senior management and court to the university community.


That this Congress expresses its disappointment with the new University Code of Governance as drafted by the University Chairs.

Congress notes the failure of the Chairs to engage adequately with staff or trade unions, and that the eventual meeting with the STUC and NUS was not sufficient consultation and engagement with staff and students in the sector.

Congress notes that the Code makes very limited change, and is business as usual for most higher education institutions. The Code fails to address issues on senior managers pay, gender representation on governing bodies, or the role of trade unions on governing bodies.

Congress welcomes the Cabinet Secretary's assurances that a bill on university governance will be brought forward in this parliamentary term. Congress calls for all of the recommendations of the Von Prondzynski Review on HE Governance to be implemented in Scotland.


That this Congress believes that education is a fundamental right, and that higher education in Scotland should be free at the point of entry and based on ability to learn not ability to pay.

Education provides the key to unlocking opportunity for all. Post-16 education benefits society, health and culture and the economy. It provides the fundamental research, the professional workforce and the intellectual engagement essential to public and private enterprise within a thriving democracy.

This congress maintains its opposition to undergraduate tuition fees, and rejects the Rest of UK tuition fee for students from across these isles which has introduced the market into Scottish higher education.


Congress affirms the importance of widening access to Universities and the important role which Universities have for the benefit of Scottish society. This includes those who access Higher Education as students at any time during their lives, as well as the wider community who come into contact with the work of Universities through a range of activities, including community education; lifelong education; adult and continuing education; continuing professional development; community relevant research; collaborations with public sector, third sector and community based organisations; and the public and activist responsibilities of academics through their work and their trade union duties.

Congress therefore notes with concern the excessive emphasis of the Scottish government on Higher Education as an instrument of promoting youth employment. Whilst Congress supports attempts to promote youth employment, this should not be to the detriment of the educational role of Universities, of access to Higher Education for mature students, the social responsibility of universities and the principles of academic freedom.


UCU Scotland firmly believe that university campuses should be welcoming environments where all staff, students and visitors can engage positively without fear discrimination or intimidation. There are now a number of examples of extreme sexist behaviour that have arisen in campuses across the country and these have been rightly condemned. However the underlying culture which tolerates such sexism has been allowed to persist, and UCU Scotland believes that without positive action such extreme behaviour will continue to occur.

This meeting welcomes UCU Scotland's support of the White Ribbon Scotland campaign and calls for further campaign materials to be distributed to all UCU Scotland branches/LAs. This meeting calls on UCU Scotland to work with branches, student associations, NUS Scotland and employers to promote equality on campus and tackle every day sexism where it occurs. This would include supporting the "lose the lads mags" campaign and lobbing for the removal from sale of sexist and demeaning publications from all campus outlets. Universities, through their duty of care to staff and students, should facilitate the reporting of every day sexism and encourage all staff to challenge practices and behaviours that are unacceptable.


That this Congress notes the importance of ensuring university and college campuses are welcoming and safe environments for staff, students and visitors. Recent press reports have highlighted an unwelcome "laddish culture" has been developing and whilst this may reflect a wider societal issue that needs challenging, it is also vital to challenge practices and behaviours which are offensive.

A UK Government-commissioned Sexualisation of Young People Review found: "lads' mags promote an idea of male sexuality as based on power and aggression, depicting women as sex objects and including articles that feature strategies for manipulating women."..."The evidence gathered in the review suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm."[1]

This Congress believes that steps should be taken to ensure that equality and diversity is enshrined within all post-16 education institutions, and supports the positive work started by Universities Scotland, NUS Scotland and UCU Scotland. Congress supports the campaign to seek to remove all "lads mags" from sale in University, College and Student Union shops.  Where campus shops are operated by third parties such restrictions will form part of letting agreements, and voluntary compliance will be sought until then.

These magazines represent an easily identifiable aspect of "laddish culture" and their removal from sale on campus will do much to improve the reputation of our universities and colleges.  Such a move will also allow a wider debate to be undertaken on campus, to ensure student events avoid sexist undertones and encourage staff to tackle sexism wherever it is encountered.


UCUS Congress condemns the deplorable treatment of UCL academics Dr. Hiranya Peiris and Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock by the Daily Mail.  
Congress notes the valuable contribution by female academics from many different cultures to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as the barriers they still encounter in terms of gatekeeping, access to resources and promotion and being taken seriously.

Congress instructs the Executive to:

  1. Publicly condemn the Daily Mail for its treatment of Drs Peiris and Aderin-Pocock.
  2. Encourage members to sign the petition
  3. Continue to work together with other organisations to campaign to overcome the prejudice, discrimination and other factors that present barriers to women, particularly black and ethnic minority and disabled women, studying STEM subjects and entering and progressing in careers in STEM.

This is timely as the Daily Mail column was published on 19 March.

The issue of the involvement of women in STEM and belittling treatment is an important issue that UCUS should be commenting and campaigning about.


UCU Scotland deplores the unnecessary use of casual contracts in delivering teaching, research and student support across HEIs in Scotland. As well as the uncertainty that comes with being on a zero-hour contract, many staff suffer exploitation through other temporary contracts. Their widespread use is the unacceptable underbelly of our universities. UCU Scotland recognises the successful campaign run at Edinburgh University and calls on UCU Scotland to support campus campaigns against casualisation and where appropriate, to revisit any campus policies with a view to increasing security and reducing exploitation.


That this Congress deplores the increasing use of zero hours 'contracts' and the associated low pay and insecurity.

Congress notes the prevalence of zero hours contracts in the public sector and in higher education in particular. Two-thirds (66%) of Scottish universities that responded to UCU's Freedom of Information request have teaching staff on zero-hour contracts. Overall, a quarter (27%) of companies use zero-hour contracts, according to recent research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Congress expresses its deep concern at the excessive use of exploitative zero hours contracts, which bring uncertainty, inferior terms and conditions, insecurity and a lack of career progression.

Congress calls on the UCU Scotland to:

  • urge university employers to work with trade unions to end the use of exploitative zero hours contracts in the sector;
  • campaign with affiliates and civic organisations to call on the Scottish Government to end the use of exploitative zero hours contracts in public bodies.


Congress notes with extreme concern the increased incidence in workplace bullying in Higher Education, and calls on the UCU Scotland officers to urge management in educational institutions to recognise and eliminate this form of harassment.


Staff at Caledonian University are able to make use of the Glasgow Credit Union for savings and loans through the University's membership of the scheme.  This meeting recognises the positive good that Credit Unions provide to their community.  Encouraging the wider success of credit unions will help tackle the growing use of pay day lenders and provide communities with access to savings and loans without funding exorbitant banker's bonuses.  

This meeting calls on UCU Scotland to work with the employers to ensure that credit union membership becomes universal across Scotland's HEIs and to explore with NUS Scotland how credit union schemes could be utilised by the student body.




Congress notes the work of STEPS (St Andrews Education for Palestinian Students) and supports its aim of enabling qualified Palestinians to undertake postgraduate study at a Scottish university.

Congress notes that the scheme depends on St Andrews University agreeing to waive fees, and on the students' living expenses being donated.

Congress calls on Executive to:

  • work with other organisations and individuals to establish a broader scheme that would see more qualified Palestinian students being offered places at participating Scottish universities
  • press all Scottish universities to agree fee waivers for at least one student in any one year when there is a suitable applicant
  • work with the Scottish TUC to secure funds from the Scottish government as the core element in a scholarship scheme that would cover required living expenses.

STEPS (St Andrews Education for Palestinian Students) was established in January 2011 as an independent charitable trust to provide funding for Palestinian students at the University of St Andrews. This scholarship, co-funded by STEPS and the University of St Andrews, will provide funding for a Palestinian student to undertake a one-year postgraduate course of study in the academic year 2013/14.


Congress notes the increasing internationalization of activities being carried out by UK Universities, and believes that it would be useful for the UCU to give support and offer solidarity to our colleagues in campuses affiliated or connected to our own, whether established abroad or through organisations such as INTO.

Congress asks branches to familiarize themselves with the working conditions of staff at such affiliated campuses or organisations, and consider whether campaigns of solidarity on issues such as Trade Union recognition, wages and conditions, and issues of academic life can be arranged.


Congress notes that:

  • Tzipi Livni, Israel's Minister of Justice and Chief Negotiator in the Israeli-Palestinian talks, has been invited to the UK by the Jewish National Fund to give an address on 15th May 2014;
  • UCU Scotland has endorsed the call against the JNF as an organisation complicit in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians;
  • Tzipi Livni is accused of war crimes because of her role in the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinians in Gaza during 'Operation Cast Lead';
  • 15th May is Nakba day when Palestinians commemorate the forcible expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-50.

Congress condemns this provocative incitement.

Congress resolves to write to and publicly call upon Theresa May to ask her to refuse Tzipi Livni entry to the UK


Congress notes the introduction of two hour stoppages as an additional means of carrying out industrial action in the current dispute, and notes it has had different degrees of success depending on a range of factors in each institution.

Congress supports the decision taken to consider new ways of conducting industrial action, and believes a discussion of the effectiveness of a whole range of activities - not limited to those used in the current dispute would be helpful as a guide to future practice. 

Congress notes the introduction of two hour stoppages as an additional means of carrying out industrial action in the current dispute, and notes it has had different degrees of success depending on a range of factors in each institution.

Congress supports the decision taken to consider new ways of conducting industrial action, and believes a discussion of the effectiveness of a whole range of activities - not limited to those used in the current dispute would be helpful as a guide to future practice. 


Congress commends the efforts of branch committees, activists and the wider membership in taking action to defend pay and conditions within our institutions.  The employers imposition of yet another real terms pay cut in 2013/14 is a calculated move to devalue the contribution of all university staff, with the obvious exception of university principals and vice-chancellors who have enjoyed an average increase of over 6%.  Members are to be congratulated in the action taken so far; and branches, executive members and elected officers are asked to redouble efforts in campaigning for fair pay ahead of the ultimate sanction of a marking boycott.  UCU Scotland Congress reaffirms our support for UK level bargaining on pay.  Further, we attest that a resolution must be achieved through UK negotiations in order to protect the national bargaining framework and the longer term interests of all members.


UCU Scotland notes recruitment and organising continues to be a key priority for UCU and congratulates the good work being done throughout branches in Scotland. Congress however recognises that that there is room for recruitment and growth in all institutions, but particularly in those with low membership density, and that the union's future strength depends upon persuading members to get more involved, take up active roles, and help build the union.

Congress further notes that the union is committed to the organising model and has a dedicated organiser in Scotland. That staff will often join if directly asked or contacted by a local representative and that this need not an onerous task if the branch is well organised.

It further notes that where recruitment and organising drives are taking place at institutions  these can only be successful if local members and reps are actively involved in planning and the organising activity.

Congress therefore calls on all branches to increase efforts to recruit new members, especially those early careers staff, PHD students and those on casualised and fixed term contracts, and to increase the involvement of members in organising and recruiting. To help this, congress asks the UCU executive to ensure examples of good practice are circulated amongst branches and to consider providing guides targeted at different constituencies of potential members, and by encouraging members to get involved as departmental reps and contacts, helping in the recruitment drives and actively recruiting members.


Congress notes that the Principal of the University of Dundee is currently proposing to reduce academic staff posts by between 80 and 120 FTE.

Dundee UCU has agreed to the terms of a Voluntary Severance scheme on the condition that the scheme is strictly voluntary and does not involve coercion through the targeting of specific posts.

Congress further notes the concern of members at the University of Dundee that the senior management of the university has not ruled out compulsory redundancies and seeks to implement organisational change through the identifying of specific posts for redundancy in specified areas of the university.

Congress notes that Dundee UCU members, at a recent quorate branch meeting, agreed to ballot members on industrial action against the targeting of academic posts and the risk of compulsory redundancies posed by the current management approach.

Congress resolves to mandate UCU Scotland to:

  • continue to support the Dundee UCU branch in its negotiations with senior management
  • facilitate a ballot for local industrial action as requested by the local branch.
  • support and publicise the public petition against job losses.
  • encourage members from other Scottish branches to support the lobby of Court on 22nd April 2014 in at University of Dundee.
Last updated: 25 March 2019