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21 June 2023

Recognising the pay negotiations are closed, the University of Exeter’s Executive Board (UEB) encourages the national UCU and UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association) to resume talks to re-engage with the terms of reference agreed at Acas to find a path to ending the current impasse, and the ongoing impact on students and colleagues.

We understand the current industrial action is impeding talks and UEB therefore calls for a pause in current action to allow talks to take place. We strongly encourage re-engagement to address the areas that we are working on locally, as detailed in our progress update on the January 2023 joint statement with Exeter UCU below.

The Exeter UCU branch recognises and appreciates the positive steps taken by UEB to help to break the deadlock in the dispute.

University of Exeter and Exeter UCU Joint Statement – June 2023

The time, energy and effort going into a stalemate is not beneficial for our community. The University of Exeter’s Executive Board and Exeter UCU (EUCU) encourage the national UCU and UCEA to start a conversation about the university sector’s finances with the aim of reaching a mutual understanding ahead of the 2024/5 pay round starting in January 2024. We also strongly encourage re-engagement with the terms of reference agreed at Acas as we believe these have the potential to lead to meaningful change for the sector.

The University and the EUCU recognise that Exeter does not operate in isolation. We also recognise that there are systemic concerns with the funding of HE in the UK that will need to be addressed to provide a long-term resolution that addresses, among other issues, inflationary pressures on wages.

Progress update on the January 2023 University of Exeter and Exeter UCU joint statement

Recognising the current impasse in national negotiations and the ongoing impact on staff and students, the University of Exeter and the Exeter branch of UCU will continue to work locally to progress the commitments set out in our January 2023 Joint Statement. Our joint work locally demonstrates what might be possible nationally.

  1. Pay: building on the pay scale changes implemented in November 2022, which benefitted around two-thirds of University staff, the University and EUCU will continue to review information on salaries paid by our competitors and identify any roles or grades which should be priorities for further changes, recognising budget pressures, to ensure that the University is able to recruit and retain staff and deliver its strategic priorities and an excellent student experience. We jointly agree that the national pay spine review proposed following national ACAS conciliation talks in February mirrors our past and planned work locally. We would encourage all parties to re-engage with this debate on a no conditions basis nationally whilst recognising spine changes will not be cost neutral.

  2. Pensions: The University and EUCU welcome the national joint statements issued by UUK and UCU on the USS pension scheme on 17 February, 15 March and 25 May 2023. We hope that the outcome of the current triennial valuation of USS will confirm that the benefits can be sustainably restored to the pre-April 2022 levels. We support the commitment of employers and UCU to work together on the 2023 valuation.  Future valuations should be undertaken on an evidence-based basis, taking account of the open and long-term nature of the scheme so that we do not return to dispute at each valuation. We commit to a joint open and evidence-based dialogue between management and all campus trade unions around how savings from pension contributions and deficit recovery payments might be redeployed to benefit our community and ensure financial sustainability. That dialogue will commence prior to the outcome of the valuation and conclude as soon as possible afterwards.

  3. Workload: The University and EUCU will continue to work together to review the effectiveness of the implementation of the new University academic workload principles. These have been agreed by the University Executive Board following recommendations from a working group chaired by Professor Alex Gerbasi, which included representation from EUCU. Currently, a similar development of principles for Professional Services is underway. The University will continue to work with trade unions, locally and nationally, to share, develop, implement and review principles and best practice for the management of the workloads of academic and Professional Services colleagues sector-wide.

  4. Fair Employment For All: building on the progress already made – which has led to over 750 fixed term contracts being converted to permanent contracts since 2020 – the University will continue to work with EUCU to review and reduce the use of non-permanent contracts in teaching and introduce a new procedure for staff employed on successive fixed term contracts or engaged over at least 3 successive years on eClaims to seek a review of their contact status. We will also work together to review arrangements for colleagues employed on externally funded projects to move between positions in order to maintain their experience within the University and provide greater continuity of employment. Our aim is for non-permanent contracts to be the exception.

  5. Equality: The University and EUCU welcome the improvement of the University of Exeter Gender Pay Gap in 2022. The University will continue to work with trade unions and other stakeholders, through our equality groups, to progress and monitor the commitments set out in the Race Equality Charter and our Athena Swan accreditations which will have a positive impact on the student and staff experience, and address historic inequalities in staff salaries. We will work together to ensure the positive contribution Our Culture Conversation can make in appropriately identifying further improvements to colleagues’ working environment is realised and together monitor the effectiveness of actions.