Socialist Worker

Lessons from attempt to turn Leeds university into a business

by Malcolm Povey, president of Leeds University UCU branch (pc)
Issue No. 2180

Labour minister Peter Mandelson wants to turn universities into businesses – and he has chosen to start at Leeds university. Vice‑chancellor Michael Arthur is pushing it through.

Students here pay over £30 million in fees every year and the university wants to make £35 million worth of cuts.

So what are the students paying for?

We’ve got the second biggest UCU lecturers’ union branch in the country and it’s growing rapidly. We’ve had many protests that brought students and workers together and we need more.

But the UCU should also begin a national campaign, including national strike action, against the job cuts taking place everywhere.

The lack of such a campaign gives confidence to the employers. It means that individual universities are left to fight alone.

Activists in the UCU are calling for a special higher education sector conference to launch this campaign. Our branch has passed a motion calling for it and we need more UCU branches to do the same.

At Leeds, our union officials have agreed to a ballot for strikes against job cuts but we don’t yet have a timetable. Activists hope the ballot will be completed by Christmas.

The UCU has also voted to hold a national lobby of parliament over job cuts on 25 January. This can be a major focus for workers and students to come together to defend jobs and education.

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Tue 1 Dec 2009, 18:34 GMT
Issue No. 2180
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