HE Updates – 22 April 2021

HE Updates – 22 April 2021


This news update will cover

  • HE pay negotiations 2021/22 update
  • Student return announcement
  • Joint union statement on Sewell report
  • Race 4 racial justice
  • Home working guidance request
  • SEND awards for university staff
  • Climate emergency – what can we do?
  • LGBT+ network meetings

HE pay negotiations update – 2021/22

On 14 April the second of this year’s New JNCHES HE pay negotiations took place.

UCEA, the HE employers’ organisation, made an opening offer for the 2021-22 pay year. They indicated that an additional £111.8 million (1.1%) would be added to the total paybill to fund an uplift for the coming year. What the actual increase on individual pay points will be, is subject to further negotiation in the final meeting. The employers said that they could support either a percentage uplift or a flat rate increase on all pay points, or a combination of these approaches within this amount.

The joint unions will look at the implications of the offer in relation to the joint unions’ claim. The unions made it very clear that the opening offer is insufficient and that more needs to be brought to the final pay negotiations on 6 May 2021.

Branches will be kept informed of the outcome of the final pay meeting

Government (England) announcement on student returns

On Tuesday 13 April the government confirmed that all university students yet to return to in-person teaching, will be able to do so no earlier than 17 May. This coincides with ‘Step 3’ of the government’s roadmap and applies to HEIs in England.

However, the DfE have said that if universities have planned to continue with online teaching only until the Autumn term 2021, then universities can continue with their plans. Furthermore, it states that “Providers should encourage students not to return until they resume in-person teaching and learning.” (p.7).

The advice on Risk Assessments remains in place “HE providers should continually check, revise, and update their risk assessments, especially when there is new advice and guidance.” (p.21)

You can read the updated DfE advice on the links below along with the Universities Minister’s letter to the sector.

Link: DfE guidance for HEIs, April 2021

Link: HE Minister’s letter to HEIs, 13 April 2021

Sewell report condemned by education unions

The report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Sewell report), that was published in March, has been condemned by many for downplaying institutional racism. A joint education union statement can be found on the link below.

UNISON knows that there is a long way to go to eradicate institutional racism and is committed achieving to combatting racism where we work and study as well as across wider society.

Link: Joint union statement

Race for Racial Justice

UNISON is supporting the campaign Race 4 Racial Justice. This organisation is calling for events to be held on 25 May 2021 to mark the anniversary of the killing of George Floyd.

You can find out more about how your branch and employer can get involved on the link below.

Link: Race 4 Racial Justice

Can you help? Homeworking policies and case studies needed…

UNISON is putting together new guidance on homeworking or a hybrid mix of home and workplace working in the post-pandemic world.

Does your branch /employer have a good homeworking policy or agreement? It may be part of a flexible working policy. Or, can you share any good or bad practice about homeworking has been handled where you work? We can keep anonymity on any case studies.

Please email education@unison.co.uk writing ‘Homeworking’ in the subject line. Thanks!

Link: Email education team about homeworking

Awards for excellent Special Needs and disability teams

  • Does your university have a great special education needs and disability (SEND) service?
  • Do they deserve recognition?

Then enter the national SEND awards category for ‘Inclusion in Further and Higher Education’. This is only the third year that HE has only been included in these awards. Make sure that your team is recognised. You can find out more about entering on the link below.
Please note that the deadline is 17 May 2021.
UNISON supports these awards.

Link: SEND awards – find out more

Climate Emergency/Climate Justice – take action & getting involved

Green initiatives for UNISON members and activists:

1. Sign up to UNISON’s Green Public Services webinars

UNISON is hosting three green webinars this spring to update members and green activists on our Climate Emergency work. Each webinar has expert guest speakers with a chance for a questions and answers.

All webinars will be at 1pm – 2pm so bring your lunch and join us online for any, or all, of these dates:

Thursday 22nd April – World Earth Day
Promoting the “just transition” and UNISON’s contribution to the November 2021 UN Cop26 global gathering in Glasgow

Wednesday 5th May – The Green transformation of Public Services
What are the key green initiatives and policy developments in different sectors that are happening across UK public services to meet the climate emergency?

Thursday 13th May – Green bargaining and negotiating in the workplace
Greening the workplace tool kits, green facility time and green organising – find out more.

To join the webinars please sign up to the UNISON Green network:
An email with more information will be sent to you nearer the time.

All webinars will be recorded and sent to everyone who joined the green network, but were unable to attend on the day.

2. From the ground up

22-25 April 2021 A Global Gathering for Climate Justice.
With the Cop26 gathering in Glasgow this coming November, members may wish to participate in wider green discussions with civil society and trade union groups from the Cop26 Coalition which UNISON is a member of.

You can find out more about the event and register for 18 free online sessions here:

Link: Join UNISON’s green network

Link: Cop26 coalition

LGBT+ Network meetings 2021

Join us on Thursday 8 July 2021 to learn more about the work that the UNISON Bi+ and Trans networks do for Bi+ and Trans equality and how you can get involved and help shape this work.

Link: Trans Network meeting, 9.30am, 8 July

Link: Bi+ Network meeting, 1pm 8 July