May Branch News: UCU democracy in action

Several of our members have asked us to start our branch newsletters with a short ‘to do list’ of ways you can still be involved in UCU this month if you don’t have very much time. Here is the inaugural list.

    1. Come to our action group on the Academic Careers Pathways (ACP) on 29 May, 1-2pm, in Hicks F24
    3. The library at the Oxford Language Centre is under threat of closure, under a set of circumstances that are extremely concerning. Sign this petition to support Oxford UCU’s campaign to save the library, or signal boost the campaign via social media. (This is just one of many important online campaigns going on. See our twitter account for more you can support!)
    4. Read branch news (today), our USS update (coming soon), and our Congress delegates’ report (coming soon).

These lists will vary from month to month, but the one item which will be on every list is to take 15 minutes to read branch news, and our other email or blog updates. In a week when you are incredibly busy, the best way you can support UCU is to keep up with what is going on, so that in the weeks when you have more time, you’ll feel more prepared to get involved.

National UCU News

GS Election

Voting has ended for the election of UCU’s next General Secretary, and the results will be out tomorrow, so keep your eyes open for the famous Friday email. We will also be covering the result on social media. Our thanks to everyone who voted!

Congress 2019

UCU’s annual Congress begins this Saturday. Congress is the primary policy-making body for UCU, and there are a large number of important motions and rule changes being discussed over the course of the long weekend, which are all detailed in the full agenda.

Sheffield is sending five branch delegates this year: Sam Marsh, Emma Nagouse, Robyn Orfitelli, Jo Grady, and Mark Pendleton. In addition, Jess Meacham is attending on behalf of the Academic Related Professional Services (ARPS) member committee, and Sam Morecroft is going as a Yorkshire-Humber regional observer.

One of the most important items on the Congress agenda is the interim report of the Democracy Commission, and their recommendations for increasing accountability and transparency in UCU. Here is our brief summary of the Democracy Commission and their important work.

We will be providing sporadic updates throughout the weekend on the Democracy Commission recommendations, the two motions Sheffield has sent to Congress, and other motions that we believe are of special interest to Sheffield UCU. We will also be circulating a delegates report after Congress is over. But if you want live updates throughout the weekend, we recommend following the @ucu twitter account or the hashtag #ucu2019.

USS Update

So much has happened with USS over the past 10 days that we will be devoting a separate email to update you very soon. In the meantime, we recommend all members read this exposé by Josephine Cumbo.

Local SUCU News


University of Sheffield PhD student and UCU member Ahmed Sedeeq has won his case against the Home Office and has been granted humanitarian protection for five years. We want to thank everyone who fought for Ahmed to be allowed to stay, but especially Unis Resist Border Controls, who started the Let Ahmed Stay campaign, and have campaigned tirelessly for him for over a year. Ahmed also appreciated the strong showing of support UCU members provided.
Ahmed’s case is just one of many caused by the Home Office’s Hostile Environment policies, but we will keeping standing together to push back until these xenophobic, racist procedures are eliminated.

Metrics and the ACP

We are concerned and disappointed that this university continues to embed metrics into almost every aspect of our jobs, the most recent example of which is the newly introduced Academic Careers Pathways (ACP). As the ACP is being rolled out across faculties, we are hearing worrying reports of the way it is being interpreted and employed, and we are calling an action group to discuss how we might respond as a branch on 29 May, 1-2pm, in Hicks F24. If you are concerned about the ACP, please attend! We anticipate that the actions that come out of this meeting will work nicely in tandem with those arising from the very well attended metrics action group that was held on 1 May.

Working Group: Developing collaborations with Palestine

Arising out of a motion from out 7 March GM, we are holding a Palestine working group on 7 June at 3:30pm, in Coffee Revolution in the Student Union. We will be working towards developing collaborations and ultimately a document of our intentions to take to management.

Upcoming events

Our AGM will be on Thursday 6th June, at 1pm in the Council Room in Firth Court. Please put the date in your diaries! The AGM covers a range of important business, including annual reports from branch officers, and the election of a new branch committee. We will also be updating you on the outcomes of our negotiations with management on our local USS grievance, and asking for your feedback on how to proceed. AGM Agenda

Don’t miss our end of the year party on 14 June from 6pm in the Showroom Cinema! All Sheffield UCU members and friends of Sheffield UCU are invited. There will be food, a private bar, and a dance floor. Please book your ticket asap so we can order appropriate catering.