An open letter to Sir Eric Thomas, VC of University of Bristol
Dear Sir Eric,
I would like to express my disappointment in the University of Bristol’s reluctance to speak out or support their staff over the negotiations taking place between UCEA and UCU.
What is more disappointing is the University’s decision to cut 100% pay of all staff taking part in the marking boycott.
Our academics are paid less than others in most of the English-speaking world, and many of them strike to protect younger members of staff, postgraduate teaching students who work with inadequate support and unfair pay, and support staff. Staff cannot simply accept over five years of real term pay cuts. Bristol has the power to speak up and influence the decisions of the UCEA, and the University is choosing not to do this.
We do not accept the response that Professor Judith Squires, Pro Vice-Chancellor Education gave that you cannot do anything because this is ‘a result of significant reductions in public funding, capped tuition fees, and increasing staff pension costs’ when the university has had the most profitable year with a £12 million budget surplus in 2013-14. You are clearly prioritising capital investments over the quality of teaching and education at the University.
What is more, whilst you have only taken 1% pay rise in the past three years, your salary is £321,000, a good £71,000 over the national average Vice-chancellors’ salaries.
We do not accept the response that the ‘planned marking boycott would have a significantly detrimental impact on students’ with no acknowledgement that the marketisation and devaluation of academia in the wider educational landscape will have a detrimental impact on current students. Current students who wish to go into academia, current Postgraduate Research students who are affect by low wages and current students whose underpaid and overworked staff do not deliver the world class education we were promised.
I am proud to attend a university with incredible and passionate staff, but I am not proud to attend a university that forces them into being unable to stand up for what they believe in; fair pay for the work they do.
I therefore urge you:
· To use your influence as the Vice-Chancellor of UOB, outgoing Universities UK President and as a knight to support fair pay for academics, and ensure academia does not become a playground for the privileged
· To revoke the decision to withhold 100% of pay from staff who do participate in the marking boycott, and respect our staff's right to protest against unfair pay and conditions