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Tomorrow: Mass picket of Vice Chancellors’ conference

Education Education Education | 23.02.2011 12:46 | Education | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles

Thursday 24th February
National Day of action, including mass picket of Vice Chancellors’ conference

From 2pm outside Woburn House, Tavistock Square, Central London (map:

Feeder marches from London universities including LSE, KCL, LSBU, UCL & ULU

Vice Chancellors prepare to push fees and cuts

One week from today, on Thursday 24 February, Universities UK – an organisation representing the managers and vice chancellors of every university in Britain – will hold its spring members’ meeting.

We can only speculate on the agenda, but it is certain to include the topic of hiking up tuition fees. Since the government raised the cap on tuition fees in December, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and Imperial College have already declared that they will start charging the maximum £9000. When tuition fees were set at £3000, it took only a few years before almost every single university was charging the maximum. Now Professor Michael Arthur, president of the Russell Group and Vice Chancellor of Leeds University, has said that charging more than the recommended £6000 is “critically important to the ethos of this university, whatever happens next.”

But however desperately the university needs the cash, it is still able to scrape together a three figure salary for Professor Arthur: a cool £244,000 in 2009-10. University Vice Chancellors are some of the highest-paid managers in the public sector – all 133 now earn more than the Prime Minister. The Universities UK president, Professor Steve Smith of Exeter University, is no exception, taking home £261,000 in 2008-9. Professor Arthur’s colleague on the Russell Group board, Malcolm Grant of UCL, received pay and bonuses last year worth £404,272 and even he is eclipsed by one senior administrator at Oxford who receives over £600,000.

At the same time as increasing their own salaries, these Vice Chancellors are offering their own academic staff an increase of just 0.4% – which at current inflation rates means a severe cut. They are also undermining agreements on pensions and refusing to discuss job security in the hope of making it easier to sack lecturers and make cuts. That’s why university and college workers are voting on whether to take strike action in March.

The Education Activist Network has called for a day of action on Thursday to target the Vice Chancellors. Students at Leeds will be putting Professor Arthur “on trial”, and protestors in Sussex will be using books to defend education. And in London, student protestors will be marching to a mass picket of the Universities UK conference itself.

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  1. Query their motives. — Ann Archist