Thousands of staff and students at the University of East London (UEL) have signed a statement of no confidence in the university's senior management. Over 200 staff have lost their jobs in the last four years. Now vice-chancellor Frank Gould has demanded another £3 million in cuts and redundancies. A meeting of 250 staff and students recently confronted UEL governors. Martin Hoyles, chair of the lecturers' NATFHE union branch, told the governors, 'This management must go.'
Student union president Garry Chick said, 'You must help us to solve its problems. If you do not, the consequences will be serious.'
Taking on cuts and exclusions
Up to 300 angry students packed into a meeting on Thursday of last week to grill top management over exclusions at Luton University, and closure of the humanities, maths and technology departments. 'The mood on campus is really militant at the moment,' said Chris. 'This is the biggest student meeting we have had in years. We are really pissed off. Management have come here today to patronise us and dumb down the whole issue.'
Some 98 members of staff are being made redundant. Lecturers in the NATFHE union have voted unanimously to be balloted for industrial action, and support staff in the UNISON union have voted to support them.
The vice-chancellor has excluded 542 students over non-payment of rent. He has also issued a notice threatening students who haven't paid their fees with exclusion. Management incompetence means they don't know who has paid their fees. Kiara was sent a letter demanding that she pay £320 or face exclusion. She said, 'They sent me this letter, but I'm fully paid up! I have to find £50 a week to pay them, plus I was charged £100 just to be allowed to pay my fees in instalments.
'It is a disgrace. The whole fees system stinks and we have to get rid of it.' The NUS at Luton was set to hold a meeting on Thursday of this week during the national shutdown over fees. Student Ross Miller said, 'So many students are talking about occupying. We have to send a clear message to the vice-chancellor that we won't allow one student to be excluded or one lecturer to be sacked. It's time for us to stand up and fight for our education.'
Around 150 students occupied the refectory at Tile Hill Further Education College in Coventry on Thursday of last week in protest at the rip off prices of multinational caterers Sodexho.
The two-hour sit-in, which followed a petition of 400 students, was protesting at extortionate canteen costs-such as a single bacon rasher costing 40p.
Warwick University has retreated from its threat to make the purchase of laptop computers compulsory after students reacted with outrage to the plans. The poorly hidden top-up fee, dubbed 'the laptop-up fee' by activists, would have required all students to fork out at least £1,300 for IBM computers.
The scheme has now been ruled out, at least until 2003, after students began to build support for a protest surrounding Senate House (the administration building that was occupied for a day last year). Management now declares that it wants students to play a more active role in discussing alternative proposals.
About 60 angry students turned up to a joint lecturers' and students' meeting on Wednesday of last week to discuss what action will be taken over management proposals to sack 22 lecturers and close three courses at Southampton Institute. The meeting was defiant, and ready to take the message to institute bosses that the cuts would not happen without a fight. The following day 90 students attended a forum to put questions to management but left more angry than when they came in. A meeting afterwards resolved to support lecturers in their ballot for escalating strike action, and to go all out for the NUS national shutdown on Thursday of this week.
A meeting of 120 lecturers in the NATFHE union at Norwich City College last week voted by 118 to two for an indicative ballot for industrial action. They are fighting to defend quality education and stop the worsening of contracts.