- Kent Union have made clear that they will not support senior management’s disastrous academic year changes if students choose a different approach (see email for link to motion).
- It is now up to you to prove the widespread student opposition to senior management’s plans. Send this email & survey to all your students now.
- Show the attached powerpoint in your seminars & lectures, asking students to fill out the survey. This will not take longer than 5 minutes.
- Kent Union have a crucial role on Senate, who will be voting on senior management’s proposal on 8th November.
- UCU are offering students a real choice between the two versions of the academic year which could realistically be accepted:
- As suggested by the all-member branch motion, your UCU negotiators are counterproposing a ‘two teaching term,’ ‘semesterised’ model of the academic year, as an alternative to senior management’s disastrous plans.
- “Two teaching terms” is a compromise counterproposal that could realistically be accepted. It was under serious consideration by the senior management Project Team in August, and would retain the 15/30 credit structure.
Here are some of the main reasons why “two teaching terms” is a better option:
- “Two teaching terms” is tried and tested by many institutions. Senior management’s high-risk model is only used by a handful of outliers in the sector.
- “Two teaching terms” does not risk students leaving & the university going bust. In contrast, a third teaching term means students cannot work full time or undertake caring responsibilities over the summer term: many will leave and the university will lose their tuition fees. Senior management have refused to share the “business case” for their third teaching term, suggesting there is no convincing financial case.
- “Two teaching terms” avoids industrial action, potentially at the end of this term and beyond, which could include sustained strike action and marking & assessment boycotts. Senior management’s third teaching term requires every module in the university to be rewritten and adds a whole extra term of overwork, so staff may be forced to strike if it’s voted through at Senate.
- “Two teaching terms” is supported by lecturers and support staff, whereas three teaching terms has been concocted without meaningful consultation with staff or students. Senior management are violating university ordinances by imposing changes before any formal vote by the University Senate. Kent Union and Kent UCU agree senior management’s plans are far too rushed. Kent Union have asked for Kent UCU to be consulted on details and this has not been respected.
- “Two teaching terms” is a more incremental change that could allow the university to improve timetabling. In contrast, the “three teaching terms” will be such a drastic change that there is no chance of them delivering ‘block timetabling’. Staff have no confidence in the Director of Education Richard Reece to deliver a whole new timetabling system: he can’t even deliver an IT system or retain the students he’s already got.
Kent Union-UCU Relations Are Positive – Especially Over Compulsory Modules
- Kent Union share your trade union’s opposition to “compulsory modules” in areas like Arts and Humanities: all the data proves it will tank recruitment and lead to mass redundancies. A critical mass of Heads of School and Directors of Recruitment have just submitted a forensic 25-page report on this issue to the Project Team.
- Kent Union were very impressed and persuaded by the UCU-supported survey of 500 students over compulsory modules – they will listen if we present them with survey evidence of students’ views. It is notoriously difficult for Student Unions to reach students, but as lecturers and support staff we have unique relationships with students to empower them to take back control of their university.