Monthly Archives

December 2013

Teaching staff take further strike action

By London Student, National News, University of London News
Deptford Town Hall

Deptford Town Hall

University academic and support staff held a second strike over pay last Tuesday, following previous action on 31 October, with student at one University of London college staging an occupation in support.

Members of four unions – the University and College Union (UCU), Unite, Unison and the Educational Institute of Scotland – formed picket lines all over the country on 3 December, opposing a 1% pay rise offer which they say constitutes a 13% real terms cut sincere 2008.

Last Tuesday’s action forced the University of London to shut Senate House Library and caused class cancellations across the city.

The strike also say Goldsmiths students occupy Deptford Town Hall, which houses university management offices, in support of the strikers. Around 100 students moved in last Monday evening, with around 30 saying until 12pm the following day.

Their occupation came after other by students in Sheffield, Edinburgh, Sussex, Ulster, Birmingham and Exeter.

In a statement, the occupiers said managers should look to their own incomes to find savings. “The university sector has the biggest pay disparity of all public sectors, with the gender pay gap widening with every new government policy of marketisation”.

In an open letter to Pay Loughrey, Goldsmiths’ warden, members of the university’s UCU brand wrote: “While salaries of lecturers and support staff have declined in real terms, the same cannot be said of the warden who has recently been awarded a 9% pay rise and benefits from a pension contribution far in excess of the annual salary of most support staff”.

A Goldsmiths press officer response to UCU’s letter by emphasising that of the four years Loughrey has been warden, he has only accepted a pay rise in one of them, making his average yearly pay increase just over 2%.

He also claimed that Loughrey was “well below average” in league tables comparing university head’s salaries with seventy others earning more than him.

Adrian Polglase and Nicholas Winchester, London Student: Issue 5 (09/12/2013)

London universities airbrushed Wikipedia pages

By London Student, National News

Wikipedia

Two London universities have been deleting negative information and finessing critical passages on their respective institution’s Wikipedia pages, a Times Higher Education investigation discovered.

In August, London Metropolitan University’s press office deleted comments made last year by Malcolm Gillies, their vice-chancellor, in which he considered a campus alcohol ban because conservative Muslim students considered the substance “immoral”.

The magazine’s investigation also found that the University of Arts London’s press office edited passages on their Wikipedia page in May 2012. They gave a section describing staff and course cuts a more positive spin, ending with: “the university has consolidated and is looking to the future with cautious optimism”.

The first-party ‘airbrushing’ of these articles breaks the online encyclopaedia’s guidelines and the site’s administrators have since banned London Met’s account for “promotional editing”.

Sections deleted by the university have since been reinstated by other Wikipedia users, although between November 2012 and March this year, anonymous users with IP addresses traceable to London Met’s location have attempted to re-delete the comments.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 5 (09/12/2013)

Government begins to sell-off student loan book

By London Student, National News

Student Loans

The British government has sold student loans with a face value of £890m for just £160m to a private debt purchaser renowned for its persistent debt recovery practices.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the sale, which covers loans to around 250,000 students who started courses between 1990 and 1998, to a consortium named Erudio Student Loans.

The price paid by Erudio reflects their assessment of the proportion of loans likely to be paid back in full or in part, with the majority of the book in arrears or deferred.

The consortium is led by investment fund manager CarVal Investors and debt purchasing group Arrow Global.
Following this decision, George Osborne announced in his autumn statement that “new loans will be financed by selling the student loan book”.

A spokesperson from BIS confirmed to the Independent that student loans taken out between 1998 and 2012 have “the potential” to be sold “over the next five years”.

If privatised, the sale of the loan book would deliver roughly £10-15 billion to the government over a five-year period, although any future repayments of capital and interest from the loans sold would be lost.

In both instances, BIS have claimed that there will be no change to borrowers’ terms and conditions, including to the interest rates charged.

But Michael Chessum, the University of London Union president, argued students should not be reassured by the government’s promises.

He said: “There is every reason to believe that current and future governments will simply flout commitments on higher education funding, because that is what has happened consistently under both Labour and Tory governments”.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 5 (09/12/2013)