HE national disputes 2021

Boycott Leicester

UCU welcomes Newcastle University's decision to drop 'draconian' targets for staff

8 June 2016 | last updated: 9 June 2016

UCU has today announced that a long-running dispute with Newcastle University over a 'draconian' system of performance targets for academic staff, has been resolved.

At a meeting with the union on Monday, the university agreed to drop its controversial proposal to impose a trio of compulsory targets on academic staff. The first target related to the money individual academic staff had to raise in research grants, the second to the number of academic papers they had to publish each year, and the third to the number of PhD students they had to oversee. If they failed to meet their targets, staff could have faced demotion.

The union argued the targets were beyond individual lecturers' control and that it was unfair to penalise staff for failing to achieve what they could not control.

The dispute, which flared up late last year when the proposals for new targets were first put on the table, had become so serious that last Friday UCU had begun a marking boycott of students' work which could have led to some students having their graduation deferred this summer.

The university has now agreed to withdraw the proposals and to work with UCU and academic staff on a revised method of maintaining the quality of research and Newcastle University's status as a leading university.

UCU regional official, Iain Owens, said: 'We welcome Newcastle University's decision to withdraw these draconian targets which our members felt would have been beyond their control and so inherently unfair. There was no doubt they were going to cause a great deal of needless stress and anxiety.

'We now want to move forward positively by working with the university in a collegiate way to produce a new policy.'