Reading University UCU Rotating Header Image

Advice on Redundancy, Redeployment and Furloughing 2020

For members looking for advice and guidance on any issue connected to Redundancy, Redeployment and/or the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (Furloughing), please see our new page under the Resources section:


Covid-19 - precarity

RUCU Picketing Newsletter Spring 2020

Please find our latest picketing newsletter here!

PDF version:

Text version:

Blog on Critical University Studies – references and links to further reading

Dear Members,

On the Earley Gate picket line we have again during this period of strike action been having stimulating discussions about the problems at the universities which include our pensions and ‘four fights’ issues, but are also about the wider context of marketisation, financialisation and standardisation that generates those working conditions.

During the discussion, it was suggested a blog might help to provide members with an overview of further resources to engage with these issues more widely.

We will start with mentioning some brief, ‘easy access’ materials and progress to more extensive and complex discussions of the issues:

  1. Recently, The Guardian newspaper has (finally) been starting to publish more about the problems at the universities (see, for instance:, but earlier on, in 2015, Karín wrote a public letter on the problems of the neo-liberal university, which was published in The Guardian and co-signed by 126 UK professors: ‘Let UK universities do what they do best – teaching and research.’:

Within 36 hours of being published, the letter had been accessed 4500 times. Karín was subsequently invited to write a blog about the letter and its signatories for the Times Higher Educational Supplement online, and this was the most accessed THES blog-post for that weekend, as tweeted by the THES editor.

  1. Subsequently, in 2017, Karín was invited by a the Thinktank ‘Civitas’ to write a report on the problems of higher education and ‘students as consumers’ and this resulted in the following paper (open access also online) which gives an overview of how this whole situation came to be and the consequences and also provides footnotes to further weblinks with studies on specific aspects:
  2. There is a short and useful Lee Jones ‘Seven deadly sins of marketisation’ piece from Medium written during the previous strike action which is really a summary of the complex arguments offered elsewhere, see:
  3. ATTACHED: a paper on ‘Critical Pedagogy and Neoliberalism’ arguing how pedagogies which are often seen to be positive and anti-neoliberal in their focus on individual ‘self-regulated learning’ are in fact entirely obedient to neoliberal aims and structures.
  4. ATTACHED: the introduction to the Shore and Wright (eds) 2018 collection on ‘The Death of the Public University’
  5. ATTACHEDthe paper by Wright and Greenwood (2017) on Universities run by and on behalf of the faculty students and staff (really interesting this one)
  6. ATTACHEDMegoran and Mason (2020) for UCU on the Dehumanisation of casualisation in HE
  7. also attached an email here about an ominous gathering facilitated by the Westminster conference circuit (All Party Parliamentary Groups – APPGS – which are often fronts for private sector lobbyists) – about Education 4.0. etc. and what students really want in terms of technology-led learning, etc. etc – lots of the usual suspects like Anthony Seldon et al are involved…
  8. These discussions have been raging for much longer and much more extensively, however. Here are some of the key books in this area:

Bill Readings, The University in Ruins (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997); Mike Molesworth, Richard Scullion and Elizabeth Nixon (eds), The Marketisation of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer (London: Routledge, 2010); Andrew McGettigan, The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education (London: Pluto Press, 2013); Roger Brown, Everything for Sale? The Marketisation of UK Higher Education (London: Routledge, 2013); Henry Giroux, Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Chicago, Ill.: Haymarket, 2014); Derek Sayer, Rank Hypocrisies: The Insult of the REF (London: Sage, 2015); Stefan Collini, Speaking of Universities (London: Verso: 2017); Neil Cocks, Higher Education Discourse and Deconstruction: Challenging the Case for Transparency and Objecthood (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017).

Karin Lesnik-Oberstein and Andrew Ainslie

Further links:

The UK Higher Education Senior Management Survey: a statactivist response to managerialist governance:

USS Briefs:

A New Vision for Further and Higher Education CLASS – Centre for Labour and Social Studies:

The Gold Paper / Goldsmiths:

Blog ‘On strike’


Event: Why Are We Striking?

Join Union members to ask about the strikes: why they’re happening, what’s going on, and
so on.

Monterey Lounge, RUSU, Wednesday 12th February 2-3PM

Click here for the UCU_Panel_Poster

Taking Action Matters Newsletter: Season’s Greetings everyone!

‘Sorry We Missed You’ film screening

This screening of Ken Loach’s most recent film is in support of Reading UCU’s current industrial action.

All proceeds will go to the Reading UCU hardship fund -suggested solidarity contribution:

£10 (£5 for students/precarious/unemployed/OAP)

All contributions payable (in cash only) at the door.

Date And Time: Tue, 3 December 2019 14:15 – 16:15 GMT

Location: Reading International Solidarity Centre, 35-39 London Street, Reading


UCU – Speaking Up: Voice Care for Educators – Reading Wednesday 24 July 10:00-16:00

UCU Lifelong Learning

University of Reading, London Road Campus, Reading
24 July 2019, 10:00 – 16:00

A practical and interactive one day workshop designed to help you find, use, enjoy and maintain your voice and use it to best advantage in a teaching environment, it covers:

– understanding of how voice is made and what affects it
– how teaching staff can best protect the voice, in order to prevent strain and loss
– awareness of voice skills in communication.

Book your place today!

National Recruitment Week Events w/c 13th May

Reading UCU warmly welcomes non-members to the following events on campus!


Monday 13th May. 13:00 – 14:00. Agriculture Building. Information Stall. Find out what UCU can do for you!

Tuesday 14th May. 13:00 – 14:00. Harborne LT.  An Introduction to USS: your pension. Reading UCU welcomes you to an open meeting for all staff members. This meeting is aimed for any staff member who may find the technical jargon surrounding pensions confusing and we will also tackle recent developments within USS. Please join us to find out more, this session will be presented by our National UCU Pensions Officer.

Wednesday 15th May. 13:00 – 14:00. Harborne LT. The USS Dispute in context. Branch pensions officer and National Dispute Committee Co-Chair Deepa Govindarajan Driver will run a session directed at the important developments in the USS dispute. Deepa will present new research siting the USS dispute within the broader discussion of commodification, erosion of workers rights, equalities consideration, and financialisation of Higher Education as well as contextual developments at our own University.

Thursday 16th May. 13:00 – 14:00. Harborne LT. Why Join UCU? Introductory Session. Learn about our work at Reading to protect your rights, give you advice and support, and negotiate better conditions of pay and work.

RUCU AGM: Wednesday 5th June

Reading UCU Annual General Meeting 2019.

The meeting will take place:

Date: Wednesday 5th June

Time: 13:00-14:00

Please make every effort to attend.

An agenda will be sent out nearer the time. If you want to raise anything under AOB, please let us know by Thursday 16th May and this can be included on the agenda, and will be discussed if there is time (there is an amount of formal material that has to be got through in the AGM). Please click here for a Nomination Form for Committee members and officers, and here for a list of current RUCU officers.  All positions are up for re-election every year and we would like to encourage you to think about joining the Committee and/or standing for one of the officer posts. We would particularly hoping that members who are working or have worked on a precarious contract – hourly-paid, part-time or fixed term – will be willing to bring that perspective to the Committee’s work, as this is currently an important area of focus for RUCU.

If you would like more information, there is a description of the responsibilities of the roles currently in the Local rules section of our website at (section 8), or have a chat with one of the existing Committee members (names and contact details also on the website). You could also come along to one of our regular Drop In sessions (Thursdays, 13:00 – 14:00) where Committee members will be happy to talk to you about how you can help the Branch, whether as a Committee member or in some other way.

Anyone being nominated needs to give their written consent by completing the Nomination Form, which must also be signed by two RUCU members. Nominees and proposers must all be Branch members paying appropriate subs.

Please return the Nomination forms by 5.00pm on Tuesday 7th May (Room 105, JJ Thomson Building).