Bristol University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, has outlined his intention to lobby government and to write to UUK, encouraging 'fresh thinking', following a meeting with the Student-Staff Solidarity group.
In an email sent out to all students, the Vice-Chancellor said: 'As the current industrial action has continued, I have heard deep concerns from many of you. I believe in the collegiality of our community, and I am committed to protecting this. I share your frustration that progress towards a sustainable outcome appears to be no closer.
'With this uncertainty in mind, I am taking two immediate actions:
- Directly lobbying government to address the unfair divergence of the current sector schemes, whereby some are backed by government while USS is not. This difference is one of the key elements that have shaped the risk profile for the USS scheme and which impacts on the possible future pension benefits for staff.
- Writing to UUK, endorsing calls for an independent, expert advisory board to bring fresh thinking to the September and November valuation in support of a sustainable solution.'
This comes after a second meeting with members of the Student-Staff Solidarity group, who have been occupying the fifth floor of Senate House since Monday morning. They are set to leave occupation at 5.45PM today.
The student occupiers were live tweeting this morning's meeting. In his email, Professor Brady added: 'We are pleased that our students are passionate about engagement on this issue. However, we are also disappointed that paraphrased comments from the meeting were published without context or agreement. They do not accurately reflect the discussion or our commitment to our staff and students who sit at the very heart of our institution.'
The tweets have since been deleted.
Meeting adjourned. We will be out for a comment soon. The twitter feed has now been deleted as we were told it was not in the spirit 'openness' in the meeting and we will be issuing a proper statement. Thanks for everyone's involvement.— Bristol Uni Occupation (@BristolUniOcc) March 7, 2018
The Vice-Chancellor mentioned that management has endeavoured to keep information as updated as possible. For 'the sake of clarity', he made clear in his email:
- We will not dock staff pay for working to contract.
- We have heard your concerns over withheld salary deductions and we will spread any withheld salary deductions over several payroll periods to minimise financial impacts.
- All salary withheld due to industrial action will be applied to benefit students. This is a commitment that has been made via the Student Experience Committee and has been reiterated in writing to the SU.
- It is also our intention to engage with UCU on the specific issues facing hourly paid staff.
Professor Brady also told students that he shares their frustration, and ended him email by assuring that he continues 'to advocate on behalf of our University community and urge all parties to work towards a solution.'
Phoebe Chase, 20, told Epigram: 'I thought it was a disappointing email, which offered no reassurance to students in relation to their studies and how they will be affected. It said nothing about when our lectures may be coming - it was just very vague.'
Members of the Student-Staff Solidarity group occupied the fifth floor of Senate House from 7.20AM on Monday morning, with the intention of giving a set of demands to the Vice-Chancellor.
The occupiers met with him yesterday (Tuesday), between 10AM and 11.15AM. Due to time constraints, the meeting was postponed and they agreed for their meeting today to take place.
The Student-Staff Solidarity group are the official group supporting lecturers during the ongoing UCU strike.
Featured Image: Epigram / Evy Tang