Cambridge University ‘on the cusp’ of recognising the UCU

The University is the only one out of more than 150 public universities in the UK that still has not recognised the UCU

Cambridge University is a “major step” closer to recognising the University and College Union (UCU), according to a Times Higher Education article.  This makes Cambridge the final public university in the UK to recognise the UCU.

The University and the UCU appear to have reached a recognition agreement which will now be sent for ratification by numerous organisations and bodies. According to the UCU’s president Michael Abberton, this will “open a lot more doors,” including allowing UCU members to use part of their working day instead of their free time to engage in union business. This will improve “the ability of working staff to organise.”

Image credits: Vedika Mandapati

Though the recognition agreement still needs to be ratified, there have been positive comments on the negotiations process from both sides. Abberton notes that the agreement reached has been “outstanding”, whilst a University spokesman said that talks have been “constructive.”

The negotiation process has not been all smooth sailing, however. In January 2021, the UCU launched a “Recognition Now!” campaign, protesting that the University has only extended recognition rights for UCU members who are academic staff, shutting out “academic-related and research staff.”

“Without recognition,” claimed the UCU, “staff are denied the right for their representatives to sit on important decision-making committees, to collectively bargain with the university, and to have access to important documents that underpin policy changes that materially impact the working lives of staff.”

According to Times Higher Education, what led to this change in attitudes towards the UCU was “pressure from above” and “personnel changes among senior management.”

A University spokesperson said that “talks between the University of Cambridge and the University and College Union (UCU) on recognition have been constructive, made good progress and are now at an advanced stage.”

Feature image credits: Vedika Mandapati