We spoke to Leeds alumni who are withdrawing their donations following the strikes

They are ‘dismayed’ at the University’s treatment of striking staff


Former University of Leeds students are withdrawing their donations following the way the University have handled the strike action.

The Tab Leeds spoke to alumni who are disappointed in the treatment of striking staff, after the University threatened to cut pay by 25% if staff fail to reschedule teaching that was missed during the strikes.

Leeds is one of the only universities to stand by the proposed pay deductions – staff already do not get paid for days on strike – and the Leeds UCU has described the cuts as "unfair" and and a threat to "staff goodwill".

Liz Morrish, a former Linguistics and Phonetics student at Leeds, has withdrawn her financial support to the University and received thousands of supportive messages in response.

She told us: "Leeds seems to be the only University still saying it will dock lecturers’ wages unless they reschedule classes. Staff expect to have a day’s pay withheld, but they can’t be expected to work twice as hard for effectively no money when they return. The University would be quite happy for staff to be working 60-70 hours a week trying to make up that time.

"I take pride in my connection with Leeds, I had a great time there and staff always seemed to have the time for me. I would want that for any student.

"Although I don’t want to damage students by withdrawing my donations, I also don’t want to be feeding the Vice Chancellor’s vanity fund so that he can swan around saying ‘we’ve got more alumni contributions than you do’.

"Management need to be told they’re disapproved of and I feel that withdrawing my donations is the only way to do it."

English graduate Paul Whickman is also considering withdrawing his donations if the University don't change their approach. He explained that alongside issues around staff pay and pensions, he is also concerned about universities' increasing marketisation.

"Something students may not be aware of is the obsessive metrics-driven culture from the government, which universities have rolled over and accepted.

"I think much of the anger from the strikes is targeted at that culture too. It harms the student experience that I enjoyed so much at Leeds."

Ed Anderson is a Politics and Philosophy graduate and a member of teaching staff at Cambridge, who is currently striking himself. He told The Tab that he is "dismayed" at The University of Leeds' actions.

"Bullying staff into rescheduling classes is not only impractical but also deliberately goes against the raison d'être of direct action. This feels part of a divisive agenda.

"The way the University is treating its staff would definitely make me think twice about donating to the University in the future."

Other Leeds alumni have taken to Twitter to speak out against the University, withdrawing their financial support unless the University changes its stance.

A Twitter page, @SadLeedsAlumni, has been set up to voice the outrage of Leeds alumni and they have suggested that all alumni donations should be put on hold.

The alumni behind the page contacted The Tab Leeds:

"The institution knows full well that it cannot reschedule hundreds of seminars and lectures – it is technically and physically impossible. But they won’t admit this to students.

"Staff already work more hours than they are contracted to. Universities therefore run on good will. To attack staff in these ways demonstrates a complete lack of connection or understanding between those paid more than £100k and those actually delivering the work of the university."

In response, a University of Leeds spokesperson said that staff taking strike action have been asked on their return to work to prioritise recovery of lost teaching.

The statement says: "Staff are not being expected to make up the missed teaching on top of all of their other commitments, but are being advised that missed teaching must take top priority, even if that means other activity is not carried out, or is postponed until later. Staff would breach their contracts by refusing such a request.

"The University has agreed to pay the equivalent of 75 per cent of a day’s pay in such cases, but it has expressed the hope that, given their undoubted commitment to our students, staff will make up cancelled teaching activities and that the University will not therefore need to implement this approach.

"We believe there is capacity to accommodate rescheduled activity, to a timescale that minimises the impact on students, but clearly where this proves challenging, we are working with staff and students to look at the different solutions available."

The Tab Leeds

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