On Wednesday 9th December an estimated 120 staff and students of the University of Birmingham united and assembled outside the University campus for a silent protest to express their concerns and dissent.
At the beginning of the event, the president of the recognised trade union for academic and academic-related staff BUCU, Dr Roland Brandstaetter, summarised the aim of the protest event by saying “We protest against – un-negotiated strategy/policy documents such as the new 2015-20 strategy of the VC which is now used to justify compulsory redundancies – REF-related metrics to justify staff dismissals -any compulsory redundancies as long as the University is overspending on facilities and senior management salaries, including the VC’s >£400K salary – the silent killing of academic freedom by unilaterally eliminating research fields from the University portfolio – the destruction of distinctiveness and research diversity as exemplified by Neuroscience and Pharmacology in CMDS which has been reduced to one research topic, Engineering in EPS which has been reduced to only three research topics and the proposed complete elimination of Hydrogeology in LES – and finally, the most recent “4* or out” policy.”
Following this acclaimed announcement, the protestors passed the following resolution to be forwarded to senior management:
“This group of protestors, including staff and students of the University of Birmingham, rejects compulsory redundancies at the University of Birmingham. We call on the University management to abide by the existing agreement on the avoidance of compulsory redundancies with the recognised trade union for academic and academic-related staff BUCU and fully refrain from compulsory redundancies as long as the University pays the highest salaries to their senior academic staff in the country, pays a <£400K salary to its VC, and as long the annual surplus of the University allows multi-million investments in facilities and buildings. We call on the University to enter into negotiations with BUCU in order to i) establish ways alternative to staff dismissals to achieve future goals, ii) review and revise their spending policy and remuneration policy of senior managerial staff, and ii) immediately suspend all nonessential spending in order to save jobs from being lost. We call on the University to retract from their un-negotiated disinvestment policy and to refrain from any future proposals of compulsory redundancies.”
This was followed by a one minute silence to mourn the silent killing of academic freedom at the University of Birmingham and the job losses due to compulsory redundancies.
The protest ended with the release of 100 helium-filled balloons with “UoB, STOP sacking people” printed on them.