Staff extremely concerned with GCU New York situation

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Nick McKerrell, Chair of the Combined Unions opened the meeting

Second all staff meeting within two months voices concerns.

A second concerned meeting of GCU staff called by the combined unions discussed the situation in GCU New York, and the effect that the current failure to obtain a licence was having on the Glasgow campus through knock on budget pressures. Following only two months after an earlier packed meeting which discussed the situation facing catering staff questions were asked about the current abilities of management following the turning of a projected surplus into an unheard of level of deficit in the last ten years.

Note was taken of the continuing bad press for the university in relation to New York and staff heard that the unions had raised the apparent use of the NY Wooster Street premises for various ‘pop-up’ activities, rather than educationally focussed activities. Many of those present had not seen the You Tube video Le Marché Bleu launch New York shop with quintessential Parisian luxury items and showed concern at how the premises were being marketed on-line. Assurances from the Vice Chancellor James Miller that the video did not accurately convey the actual situation were noted, but the general feeling of the meeting remained one of dismay.

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Staff were concerned at how GCUNY was being marketed given possible reputational damage

It had been reported in the press that the head of GCUNY was earning an annual salary of £268,000 – even greater than the £266,000 which the annual accounts revealed was the current salary of the principal.  Disappointment was expressed by the meeting that the annual accounts had also indicated that 18 senior staff were earning annual salaries of over £100,000 – an increase of 2 from a year ago, and an incredible change from zero in 2005/6 (when only the principal earned over £100,000). Compared with Post 92 Scottish universities with a similar staff size, Robert Gordon’s only had 5 ‘super-salaried staff’ in the £100k+ bracket, Edinburgh Napier 6, and UWS 7.

The meeting also noted with regret that GCU currently rates worst amongst all other post 92 Scottish universities in terms of Student Staff ratio, with a current average figure of 21:1 (which in some instances was  39:1), which was the highest in the sector. In the discussion during the meeting there was a clear perception expressed that the current portfolio review was in danger of becoming more and more cost driven, rather than academically directed, and that other staffing pressures were being exacerbated by the opportunity cost of the monies used in the New York venture.

The meeting agreed on a timeline for a number of measures to show our concern about the situation, including a lobby of Holyrood, and a follow up staff meeting before the end of March 2017.

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