The Imperial College London branch of the Universities and College Union (UCU) has called on senior management to make withheld salaries available to students who faced a cut in their student bursaries. In an email sent to Louise Lindsay, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Change, earlier this week, Imperial College UCU said they had requested “on many occasions” that money deducted from the salaries of staff taking part in this year’s industrial action go towards the Student Hardship Fund.
They went on to say they were told by College earlier this month this would not be possible and/or difficult to administer. Last week the College told Felix withheld salaries had “been retained by the relevant academic departments to support their efforts to mitigate the impact of strikes.”
Imperial College UCU said this response was “an unacceptable justification,” and called for the money to be made available to students from the 2015⁄16 intake who had lost out on provision of bursaries.
Dr Michael McGarvey, President of Imperial College UCU, said the proposal “made it clear to the management that we strongly believe that this money should only be used for the direct benefit of students and not retained by departments.”
An analysis carried out by members of Imperial College Union last year found students starting in 2015 from qualifying middle-income brackets would receive substantially less bursary, as the College shifted to a new system. Union Council voted in favour of a motion to lobby the College to make additional funding available to affected students.
The Imperial Bursary provides support to Home undergraduate students with an annual household income of up to £60,000, on a sliding scale. It is available to students throughout their degree – not including repeat years – and may be revised each year.
Universities across the country have withheld salaries from academic and support staff who took part in the UCU strike earlier this year. The industrial action was organised in response to proposed changes to pensions, which UCU argued would leave members £10,000 worse off each year.
Last week Felix revealed Russell Group universities have withheld £8 million in salaries, with further deductions expected in the near future. Imperial have withheld just under £280,000 from staff in March and April, with the number likely to increase in the future. A number of other universities have ring-fenced the withheld money for student support services.