Kent UCU win – Arts and Humanities

No A&H CRs this academic year

  • Senior management will not be making any compulsory redundancies of academics in A&H this academic year.
  • While senior management recently ripped up a deal on this issue, because they have made their intended cuts this year by other means, it is likely they will try to regain some credibility by honouring their commitment this time.
  • Members won several cases of redeployment instead of compulsory redundancy, which would not have been possible without your mobilisation.
  • A&H staff have won time to recruit and retain students and make jobs more secure, in the broken marketised system.


How you won this  

  • You voted to ballot for strike action in October 2022.
  • You supported no confidence motions in the A&H divisional leadership.
  • You beat the ‘50% turnout’ threshold in a formal industrial action ballot in May 2023.
  • You elected another nation-leading committee & set of negotiators.
  • You made every second of the A&H CR process as difficult as possible for senior management, including through forensic 1:1 casework and explosive open meetings.
  • You mobilised 14,000 colleagues across the sector in a public petition
  • You built upon your record as a branch, by balloting and winning ‘no compulsory redundancies’ every year since 2020


Limitations to this win

  • Because senior management ripped up their agreement, anyone who took voluntary redundancy is likely to have felt undue pressure to leave, due to the CR threat.
  • Senior management hope to continue cutting A&H next academic year and the year after. Their commitment of no CRs during these years of ‘review’ is still void.
  • A number of Professional Services members are still currently at risk of compulsory redundancy.
  • Senior management have caused unacceptable damage to the health, safety and wellbeing of their colleagues through an unfair and unworkable compulsory redundancy process.
  • Richard Reece and the senior managers responsible for the student retention crisis and Kent Vision IT catastrophe have not faced any consequences. Instead they continue to try to balance the books by pursuing redundancies.


What next?

  • We have a six-month industrial action mandate to apply pressure at strategic moments to defend jobs.
  • The lesson of the A&H CR process is this: if you want to stay at Kent and you are willing to defend yourself through your union, it is very difficult for senior management to make you redundant.

No confidence in A&H Divisional Leadership

In the first 24hrs alone, well over a hundred staff supported the statement of no confidence in the Arts & Humanities Divisional Leadership (see email for link). The leadership *went on annual leave* for a quarter of the formal “consultation period”, after which their colleagues can be made compulsorily redundant. This is emblematic of the whole process.

During collective consultation, there has been a refusal to listen to staff and consider actual data compiled by affected colleagues. This is putting staff mental health and wellbeing at unnecessary additional risk.

Since the review of Arts and Humanities began in September, the Divisional leadership have refused to share even basic information about Divisional finances. UCU have had to resort to FOI requests for financial information, when the ‘redundancy avoidance agreement’ signed by UCU and the university stipulates that:

‘The University agrees to reasonable disclosure of the necessary information to enable an informed dialogue, including reasonable disclosure of all necessary financial information.’

Essential questions have been left unanswered:

  1. What is the rationale for the proportion of cuts across the Division? Why have some subject areas (e.g. CLAS) been tasked with higher savings despite being up by 86% in UG recruitment on last year. UCU have repeatedly asked for the modelling, which has been denied. What are they hiding?
  2. Why has QR (REF) income not been included in the calculations, when the business case stipulates ‘total income’ and not onlytuition fee income?
  3. Why were UCU and staff reps not given the business case until 14th June, despite being in formal consultation over the new structure of the Division back in February, when an S188 was issued? This total lack of transparency made it impossible for redundancy avoidance to take place meaningfully, as required.
  4. Why do the Divisional leadership refuse to recalculate the target ‘cost savings’ based on actual data – such as actualstaff costs, QR income and firm UG students for September 2023?

It is clear the compulsory redundancy process in A&H has been chaotic, used outdated and unreliable data, and is relying on pressuring staff to take voluntary redundancy. There was even an admittance as part of collective consultation that if the cuts are too big, they can always rehire more staff after making colleagues redundant!

50% threshold crushed

You’ve done it again: you’ve beaten the government’s anti-trade union law, which requires 50% of eligible voters to vote in a postal ballot in order for industrial action to go ahead lawfully. You will also have the opportunity to vote on any industrial action strategy at a branch meeting before anything goes ahead.


Most importantly you have immediately strengthened your position in all interactions with senior management. UCU negotiators continue to push back against the flawed finances behind the compulsory redundancy threats. 


The landscape of course remains challenging: Kent are among the few employers in the sector ever to rip up a deal of ‘No compulsory redundancies’ in relation to A&H, and they have also targeted many PS jobs. 


But your 85% yes vote to strikes is an exceptionally strong result. This was your *fifth* successful disaggregated ballot in only 2 years – which is certainly among the best record of any UCU branch. Remember governments have designed postal ballots to be as difficult as possible to win – not least due to bureaucracy & postal delays – so the real level of support on the ground is even higher.


This result exemplifies the solidarity between academics and professional services.


It demonstrates the mutual support of the sciences and the humanities.


It proves you and your union can win.

Management go on holiday

Staff in A&H have put together the following statement of no confidence in the A&H divisional leadership and are asking all members to support it as soon as possible. This petition is internal to the University of Kent. Check your email to find the link to add your name.


Management go on holiday: No confidence in A&H Divisional Leadership

The Arts & Humanities Divisional leadership have gone on holiday in the middle of the formal 30 day consultation period after which their colleagues will be made compulsorily redundant. They are on annual leave for a quarter of the consultation period. The Divisional leadership has refused to hold face to face meetings until the very end of the 30 day consultation period. At a time when many of our colleagues are being threatened with compulsory redundancies and have had to cancel their annual leave to fight to keep their jobs and protect their disciplines, it is inappropriate for the management of the Division to be absent for a quarter of the consultation period. This absence is causing serious and harmful delays,  forcing colleagues to wait over a week until key calculations around financial targets, cost savings and most importantly growth income can be redone.

In January, 109 staff in the Arts and Humanities signed a Statement of No Confidence in the academic leadership of the Divisional Directorate (excluding PS managers) to report our serious concern about the direction of the Division and request new leadership. This represents an absolute majority of all staff in the Division. Rather than opening a democratic process for the selection of new  leadership when faced with this majority vote, senior management have instead chosen to:

– Tear up the deal of ‘No compulsory redundancies’ made with the local trade union branch; one of the few employers in the sector to have reneged upon a public commitment of this nature;

– Obscure the finances to such an extent that the trade union branch has had to resort to Freedom of Information Requests. Since employers are required to share freely more information during a period of formal consultation for redundancies, obstructions from the Divisional leadership are especially disappointing.

– Create a culture of chaos, confusion and anxiety that is harmful to staff mental health, tabling damaging proposals to cut staff in areas that are profitable and projected to grow in excess of management targets, and offering little support to those areas most in need of a new strategy.

The divisional leadership have chosen to exclude significant sources of income–such as QR money, REF income, and external research grants–from their evaluation of the financial sustainability of our subjects.  The result is a misleading picture that does not accurately represent the strength of the disciplines we are proud of and have worked so hard to represent at Kent.

We, the undersigned, ask once again for a democratic process to commence as soon as possible to select a full new academic leadership team of the Arts & Humanities, with a view to having new role-holders in post by 1st September. The present state of the Division  is saddening for colleagues and a waste of our extraordinary potential. We ask the management of the University to please think again and take seriously our request for new leadership in the Arts & Humanities.

Sign the Petition!

Click here to sign our public petition regarding EG’s reckless decision to tear up their commitment to no compulsory redundancies.

EG shreds ‘No CRs’ Guarantee

  • The Kent Executive Group (EG) have ripped up their guarantee of ‘No compulsory redundancies as a result of the A&H review’. This was their guarantee:

“Karen and the Executive Group wish to provide a further specific commitment to all Arts and Humanities staff that there will be no  compulsory redundancies as a result of the current review.” – 19th October 2022

  • University of Kent is now one of the few employers in the history of the sector to renege on a public commitment of this nature. Some members of EG no longer respect the basic rules of industrial relations. The branch is now taking extraordinary steps to enforce the current – and any future – guarantees over job security. Kent UCU has received extensive advice and strong validation from Regional UCU officials and the national Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). The UCU branch will be immediately requesting “Collective Conciliation” via ACAS.
  • The EG members who pushed to renege on the ‘No CRs’ guarantee have destroyed all trust with the union – and a substantial number of non-members to whom the deal also applied.
  • Collective consultation for redundancy processes will begin in A&H today. We hope affected members will hear more details at the divisional meeting this afternoon.
  • Guidance for affected A&H members is forthcoming but has to be duly checked by UCU regional officials. The branch is setting up the strongest casework support system in its history to advise affected members.

Kent UCU win

“Student Cap” Policy changed by National UCU, thanks to Kent-CCCU Motion

At the UCU Congress in Glasgow last week, the motion on reintroducing student distribution in HE was passed, and it has now become National UCU policy. The motion was proposed by Dave Hitchcock (CCCU) and seconded by Balihar Sanghera (Kent).

UCU will commission research on models of student distribution that will ensure stability and rebalance after years of uneven recruitment and financial precarity in the sector. The union will begin the campaign across all universities to protect jobs via the reintroduction of student distribution. It will also lobby the government and opposition parties to adopt a student distribution system. This is a big win for Kent members who voted for the motion in a branch meeting.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Balihar Sanghera (

Marking and Assessment Boycott – no deductions in May

  • It was confirmed today that there will be no deductions of pay for participation in the national UCU marking & assessment boycott (MAB) this month (May). HR have stated that deductions will be made at least one month “in arrears”. However, negotiators continue to press for no deductions at all and this is a perfectly possible outcome, given that deductions would be unfair, unworkable and needlessly escalatory.
  • The next few weeks of the MAB will be the most crucial – we are asking you to stay strong. The next month is your moment of maximum leverage, or what trade unionists call the “concrete pour”, so-called because if builders strike on the day concrete is due to be poured into foundations, the building is unsalvageable, hence their leverage is maximised at that time.
  • Branch organiser data shows that participation is strong – but it depends on your continued commitment.
  • Kent negotiators are making progress on many of the areas members care about, such as temporary contracts and workloads. We very much hope that senior management shares this commitment to continuing dialogue.
  • Any further updates will be circulated as soon as possible.

Arts and Humanities update

Kent UCU negotiators have continued to engage with senior management about the possibility of a “mass selection process for redeployment” in Arts & Humanities (A&H). 

Negotiators have made it clear to senior management that the mass selection process would be unfair, unworkable and needlessly escalatory. Such a process would not yield the “cost savings” senior management talk about either.

Letters initiating mass selection processes for redeployment have not been sent at the time of writing, but no agreement has been reached on this matter between senior management and UCU.

Negotiators are confident that this situation could be resolved through continued talks and transparent information sharing. We very much hope that senior management shares this commitment to continuing dialogue. 

Any further updates will be circulated as soon as possible.

Mass Selection for Redeployment in Arts and Humanities

We have an important update and some advice for Arts & Humanities members about a communication you will shortly be receiving. Some of you will receive an email from HR informing you that you are being ‘pooled’ for reselection as a member of staff in A&H and inviting you to fill out a form: in essence, you are being asked to reapply for your post. We believe that up to 100 staff will be contacted with this communication.


We are writing to reassure you of the present agreement that there will be no compulsory redundancies in Arts & Humanities as a result of the Arts & Humanities review.

The exact wording UCU received from Karen Cox is as follows:

‘Karen and the Executive Group wish to provide a further specific commitment to all Arts and Humanities staff that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the current review.’

Yesterday your negotiators met with HR and senior management and asked them to reaffirm that commitment and they have done so.

Accordingly, please don’t be panicked by the letter you may shortly receive from HR and don’t feel pressured to rush into any action. The aim of this ‘selection process’ is to intimidate individuals into taking Voluntary Redundancy. As a union, we stand strong together.


Our immediate advice is as follows:

  • Do not act upon the letters about to be sent to staff in A&H: await further UCU guidance. The local branch is receiving appropriate guidance from senior regional UCU staff & leading national organisers. We aim to have this ready by early next week.
  • Never agree to “voluntary redundancy” against your will. Remember we have a deal of no compulsory redundancies as a result of the A&H review, so no staff member should feel pressured to take VR. Our earlier guidance, updated and available here still applies.
  • As compulsory redundancies are off the table, their only credible threat is selection for redeployment outside of the Division.
  • IMPORTANT: Even if you are selected for redeployment outside of the Division, you do not need to accept any other post that is not legally ‘Suitable Alternative Employment’ (SAE), which needs to retain your pay/grade. Kent HR’s definition of SAE is: Suitable alternative employment (SAE) – a vacancy where the skills and knowledge sought to fill the vacancy match the skills and knowledge of the redeployee with, or without, further training. The following criteria are usually used to determine whether a post is ‘suitable alternative employment’:
    • The employee has the knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience to perform the new role.
    • The terms and conditions of the work are no less favourable, e.g. similar status, location, job duties, pay/grade, hours and responsibility.
  • Even as a potential redeployee, you will remain employed under your current salary and spinal point until you accept SAE. HR confirmed yesterday that all redeployees remain paid employees whilst they find alternative work within the institution.
  • Your local UCU committee did not consent to EG’s new mass ‘selection’ process. EG are trying to misrepresent the union: don’t let them divide and conquer.