Breaking news! University of Birmingham Vice Chancellor given yet another pay rise

Breaking news! University of Birmingham Vice Chancellor given yet another pay rise

The total pay packet for controversial Vice Chancellor David Eastwood has been increased from £426,000 last year to £439,000 for 2017 Socialist Students can confirm, driven, in part, by an increase in his personal bonus award from £45,000 to £50,000. Earlier this week the Birmingham branch of UCU (BUCU) held protests on campus against the extortionate pay of the VC, which followed Unison’s protest (who represent support staff) the previous week calling for the University to pay the living wage.

This follows the recent ‘retirement’ of Professor Glynis Breakwell of the University of Bath due to criticism of her salary in a deal that was exposed as being worth £808,000.

Sir David was recently described in the Guardian as having reserved a ‘special circle in neoliberal hell’ for his roll in reforms to higher education and for his record of advocating £16,000 undergraduate tuition fees. Reports have also highlighted a luxury life-style at the expense of students that has included a private rent free mansion and access to a chauffeur driven Jaguar, and shown that he sits on his own remuneration committee alongside just 4 other senior executives.

Detail from the University’s 2017 accounts shows a drop in the overall surplus from £91m (restated) to £46m, driven mainly by falls in research income. Tuition fee income continues to rise to a record £305m while the average staff salary actually fell due to ever increasing reliance on junior casualised teaching and support staff. In an open letter a member of Socialist Students this week called on Sir David to resign (here), echoing similar calls from the staff and an increasing number of politicians and commentators, while an open letter from staff against his extortionate pay has been signed by over 200 members of staff (here).

Currently all of the recognised trade unions at the University are in dispute with senior management (who’s average pay based on members of the executive board also increased to £198,883), with BUCU currently balloting their members over bullying, harassment, and intimidation related to widening misuse of disciplinary procedures, and workload allocation. You can follow their progress on their blogs here and here:

https://birminghamucu.org/

http://www.birminghamuniunison.org.uk/

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University of Birmingham to be awarded GOLD in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

University of Birmingham to be awarded GOLD in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

Birmingham Socialist Students has confirmed that there will be an announcement tomorrow (Thursday) that the University of Birmingham has been awarded ‘gold’ in the second round of the Teaching Excellence Framework (aka ‘the TEF’). No doubt, the University senior management team will be the first to take credit for these results that are, in fact, the result of the hard work of the thousands of teaching staff, many of whom are teaching on low paid, insecure casual contracts[1]. Here we give a brief overview of what this means for fees, education, and activism at our University and across the education system. Continue reading “University of Birmingham to be awarded GOLD in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)”

Does the left have a problem with anti-Semitism?

The past few weeks have seen the Facebook-Twitter-verse abuzz with claim after claim, statement and counter statement, from the various forces currently aligned in pitched battle over the question of anti-Semitism. Rumblings, coming out of Oxford University’s Labour Students as their co-chair resigned saying that their club seemed ‘generally to have some kind of problem with Jews’, were widely dismissed as right wing manoeuvrings. Then there was the media explosion that threatened to overshadow the huge and unprecedented achievement of Malia Bouattia in becoming the first black Muslim woman to become president of the NUS [1], not to mention her track record as a genuine and committed campaigner for liberation and for Palestinian rights. And now we have the suspensions of Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone, and three Labour Councillors this week. Surely more examples of baseless right wing opportunism?

Unfortunately, there is more to this than such a convenient narrative. Continue reading.

The Teaching Excellence Framework: what it is, and why we need to beat it

The Teaching Excellence Framework: what it is, and why we need to beat it

In November 2015, the flag-ship policy document of this government’s approach to Higher Education was released for consultation. While Andrew Lansley’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act brought reforms of the NHS that were ‘so big you could see them from space’, these reforms similarly mark a step change acceleration in the nature of governance of Higher Education. Following the important release of graduate earnings data by the Institute of Fiscal Studies this week [8], here’s why this matters. Continue reading “The Teaching Excellence Framework: what it is, and why we need to beat it”

The Panama Papers: what you need to know

A short and concise guide to those wanting to know the basics of the Panama Papers controversy.

Greek Left Review

What is Mossack Fonseca, how big is it, and who uses offshore firms? Key questions about one of the biggest ever data leaks

5120Panama, where Mossack Fonseca is based. Photograph: DreamPictures/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

published at the Guardian
by Luke Harding

What is Mossack Fonseca?
It is a Panama-based law firm whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands. It administers offshore firms for a yearly fee. Other services include wealth management.

Where is it based?
The firm is Panamanian but runs a worldwide operation. Its website boasts of a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries. It has franchises around the world, where separately owned affiliates sign up new customers and have exclusive rights to use its brand. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and…

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Staff and students build the fight back against redundancies at the University of Birmingham

Staff and students build the fight back against redundancies at the University of Birmingham

On Wednesday the 16th of March, the second consultation about the restructuring of the Birmingham Modern Languages department took place.

The first consultation meeting attracted only a handful of students after they were given just 24 hours notice from the University. Yet on the back of a one-thousand-strong petition in support of a hostile open letter from a Languages student1, this meeting filled an entire lecture room with students demanding clear answers.

The proposals obtained by Socialist Students to the Languages department include redundancies of 12 language-focused staff members (in order to then hire 10 new research-focused staff) as well as the casualization of remaining teaching staff, who will be transferred from 100% contracts to 75% contracts that will not pay over the summer semester. The sheer level of anger the attendees felt towards these proposals was clear; many students expressed their concerns over staff cuts, and their worries that the standard of teaching may be affected by these staff changes. Continue reading “Staff and students build the fight back against redundancies at the University of Birmingham”

International Women’s Day 2016

This is an amazing post from one of our own Birmingham Socialist Students. Happy International Women’s Day all!

 

CHELSEAJREY

I decided to celebrate International Women’s Day by writing this post about some of my ‘sheroes’.
Of course, if I were to include every woman that I think is incredible, I would still be here writing at the age of 90, so I’ve included just 10 for the time being.
Here is a small selection of women from across the globe who are doing mindblowing, brave, radical things for other women, for humanity, and for our planet.

1. Winona LaDuke, USA

winona_laduke_sm200

Winona LaDuke, a Native American of Ojibwe descent, is an activist and public speaker. She has been involved in projects such as the Indigenous Women’s Network, and the Women of all Red Nations to help promote the rights and wellbeing of Native American women. As well as this, she has been an active environmentalist, focusing particularly on environmental issues that affect indigenous peoples. As the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery…

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