Catholic Chaplain not to return to GCU

UCU@GCU welcomes the post from university management this afternoon, that ‘following due consultation’, Father Mark Morris, erstwhile Catholic Chaplain at GCU, will not be returning to his chaplaincy role at GCU:

The university statement is below:

Yesterday the University expressed “extreme disappointment” on learning our Catholic chaplain Father Mark Morris had held a service at his parish church to atone for the “gross offence” of Pride Glasgow. Today University Principal, Prof Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, said

“Following due consultation, Father Mark Morris will not return to his chaplaincy role at the University in September. The University will work with the Archdiocese of Glasgow to ensure the continued provision of chaplaincy support for students and staff at our Faith and Belief Centre when the new term starts.

The University is strongly inclusive and committed to supporting equality and diversity on campus.”

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No room for bigotry at GCU says UCU

Following the news today that the GCU Catholic chaplain held a mass ‘for the gross offence to God which is Pride Glasgow’ (link to evening times article: )  the GCU branch of UCU calls for clear and decisive action from the University.

The actions of the chaplain amount to homophobic hate speech and undermines the equality and diversity that we as a university should strive for. Universities should be safe spaces for people regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. We cannot be complicit in silence when 14% of LGBT young people say they have experienced bullying at university, of whom 94% report this affected their mental health and 64% their educational attainment (LGBT Youth Scotland, 2017).

We are pleased with the positive support given to Pride by our university, and its staff and students,  and are aware that university management have expressed profound dismay at how the positivity of the university’s involvement in Pride could be undermined for staff and students by the actions of the chaplain.

Our branch believes that the actions of the chaplain are in total contradiction to the dignity at work and study policy of Glasgow Caledonian University that apply to all students, staff, governors, contractors and visitors, and which establish a commitment which states:

A positive working and learning environment which supports dignity at work and study is vital to the success of the University. Therefore, we will take a Zero Tolerance approach to any form of unlawful discrimination, including harassment, victimisation, racism, sexism, homophobia, and any other unacceptable behaviour. Dignity and respect should underpin our day to day behaviours, and everyone has rights and responsibilities under this Policy.

In the light of the above the GCU branch of UCU expects this ZeroTolerance approach to be enforced and thus calls for the dismissal of the chaplain with immediate effect. No one who engages in or endorses hate speech can possibly reflect the values for the Common Good that our university seeks to promote. It is therefore crucial that the leadership of our university takes necessary action in order to uphold the reputation of Glasgow Caledonian University as an inclusive environment that celebrates the equality and diversity that Pride Glasgow represents.

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Celebrating International Women’s Day @ GCU


A message from UCU@GCU President Catriona Mowat:

Catriona is Disability Manager at GCU.

To celebrate International Women’s Day this Thursday 8th March, we asked women members of the UCU @ GCU to tell us what being a trade union member means to them, what they would be celebrating this Thursday, and what their hopes for the future were . We have been overwhelmed by the responses we have received. They are powerful, uplifting, inspirational, empowering and thought provoking. The breadth of issues raised truly reflect the diversity of our membership, and the passion and commitment of our members. The TUC reports that 55% of trade union members in the UK are women. At GCU, almost two thirds of our branch members are women. It should be no surprise that women are disproportionately represented among the rank and file of trade union membership. Trade Unions protect our rights, fight against discrimination in the workplace, and seek to change our workplaces and broader society for the better. Today, we are celebrating the incredible contributions of individual women in present times, and throughout history, and we are feeling very optimistic about what we can achieve through collective action. Happy International Women’s Day! We hope you enjoy reading and sharing these voices as much as we have.


AngelaPhotoAngela O’Hagan

Dr. Angela O’Hagan is a Senior Lecturer in Social and Public Policy in the Department of Social Sciences, Media and Journalism. She is also a researcher in WiSE – the Women in the Scotland’s Economy research group.

It’s the year of the ’inclusion rider’ as exhorted by Oscar-winning Frances McDormand.  It’s the year of #Time’s up.  #MeToo continues to grow and the Women’s March pushes on.  It’s also the year that UCU members are striking for economic justice as their pension entitlements are jeopardised and undermined.  Common to all these actions is the persistent undervaluing,  under-representation and disregard for women’s dignity and autonomy.  UCU colleagues are striking in solidarity across occupations in the university sector, and all are cognisant of the unfair and inappropriate action being taken by their employers against their future economic security.  They are also striking in solidarity for the additional disadvantage that Universities UK and individual universities are inflicting upon women. Women’s economic insecurity and undervalued status are already well entrenched in the structural inequalities of gendered pay gaps, institutional practices and behaviours, and sexist attitudes.

These issues unite us across national boundaries too as our striking sisters in Spain demonstrate. Women academics are striking on 8 March as part of the the national women’s strike. Taking action against the undermining of academic freedoms and marketisation of education which we all rail against, women academics are demanding an end to the institutionalised sexism of promotion rounds, research grants and leave, flexible working, and the failure to recognise the fundamental contribution of the care economy to sustaining paid employment.

A Scottish university Principal last week attempted to highlight developments in organisational equality policy as at best concessions to an agenda that’s not shared by university management and at worst as trade offs for pensions rights.  The advancement and sustained practice of equality is what we have in common with our sisters in Spain, and on the picket lines across Scotland.  The goal of equality, for all, that recognises the different lived experience of women and men of colour, across the age span, with disabilities, and with different economic status is a common goal.

That’s why I am in a union, and that union is UCU.  That’s why I celebrate the election of our first woman President, Catriona Mowat as she leads UCU GCU over the coming years. That’s why ‘no pasarán!


ClemmiePhotoClemmie Hill O’Connor

Clemmie is a researcher on the MRC-ESRC funded CommonHealth project, ‘Developing methods for evidencing social enterprise as a public health intervention, and is the Equalities Officer for UCU@GCU’

I am a trade union member because there are continuing issues of pay, working conditions, pensions and institutionalised and structural inequalities that are best dealt with as a collective, working in solidarity across the sector

This International Women’s Day, I will be celebrating the passing of the Domestic Abuse Bill in Scotland, the fact that more women are feeling able to speak up about abuse and everyday sexism, the introduction of ‘Equally Safe‘ and the work being done to make universities and work places safe for those experiencing abuse,  the continued discussion of the gender pay gap and the election of GCU UCU’s first female president

I hope that in the future women’s stories and experiences are taken more seriously, in the workplace, in education, in the media and in popular culture. I hope that we successfully win the fight to close the gender pay gap and to achieve better working conditions. I hope we live in a society that has dealt with the institutionalised  and structural inequalities that undervalue and undermine women’s work – both paid and unpaid.


EmilyPhotoEmily Thomson

Emily  is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Law, Economics, Accountancy and Risk and a Research Associate of Women in Scotland’s Economy (WiSE Research Centre). She is the outgoing Equalities Officer of the UCU@GCU

I am a trade union member because collective representation gives individual members the support they need to fight against the bullying and sexist culture that pervades the HE sector. We won’t stand for it.

This International Women’s Day, I will be celebrating the transformative power of education, especially for women and girls around the world.We are all working incredibly hard to negotiate increasing workloads and shrinking resources but we are still changing lives; empowering individuals and communities and shaping national debates through our teaching and research.  Go us!

I hope that in the future we can continue to do this in an environment that values and celebrates all our contributions, is free from gender based bullying and harassment, where all staff have the same rights and access to development, and where ‘mansplaining’ is a relic of the past.


MelPhotoMel McKenna

Mel works as part of a team of Disability Advisers, in GCU providing advice, information and facilitating access to services and facilities for disabled students and applicants

It’s important for me to feel protected and safe within my workplace. My identity ticks many of the protected characteristics and I need to feel confident and secure knowing that I will be supported and represented in the workplace should I need it. It feels like a bit of a safety blanket for me. I also want trade unions to be as diverse as possible and for there to be visible representation from minority groups. Trade unions should be accessible to all.

I’m celebrating women becoming empowered, using their voice to evoke real change. With the #metoo and #timesup movements, people are being held accountable for their actions and women are joining forces to speak out and create a movement. I don’t celebrate the fact that this has to happen, but I do celebrate women using their strength to empower themselves and other women by saying ‘no more’. Increased visibility of women within the LGBT community, as well as WOC, in mainstream media, sport (and really any area!) is really important to me, and it’s good to see this representation slowly but surely increasing. To give some context, in 2015/16, only 1.2% of HE staff identified as a gay woman/lesbian, 1.3% identified as bisexual and 0.5% identified as ‘other’ (  which has a definite impact on my experience as a woman within the LGBT community in the workplace. We have always been there, but now we are owning our identities and it’s great to see.

I hope feminism will become more intersectional and inclusive to everyone. At the moment, we still have a huge problem with transphobia in society, and this filters down into the feminist movement. I want ALL women, including trans women, women of colour, disabled women, and women from varying socio-economic backgrounds to think about feminism and feel included. To me, if it isn’t intersectional it isn’t feminism. I also hope we work towards providing better sex education, that’s inclusive of all identities and challenges views on consent and sexist attitudes from a young age.


MarionKeltMarion Kelt

Marion is an Open Access and Research Librarian at GCU

I had always been a Trade Union member till I worked for a small company, and that is when I really missed one.

I needed someone who had my back to give me advice and help me with issues of bullying and constructive dismissal. In the end I solved the problem by leaving that job and moving on, but it wasn’t ideal.

When I joined the Queen’s College, one of the first things my boss did was take me to my union rep and urge me to sign up – how’s that for a good attitude?!

I have kept up my membership of various unions through my career, and am glad to say they have always tried their best to stand up for me. It is great to know that there is someone to help you things like the grievance procedure and to check your rights for you when negotiating with HR.

This International Women’s day, I’ll be celebrating all women who speak out for their rights. I actually once had a lecturer who said to me “Is there any point in educating you, you’ll just go and have babies”! (And no, I didn’t slap him round the head!)

We have come a long way, but it is only a step along the road, there are many attitudes to be changed. I would like to see an end to everyday sexism and to the targeting of vulnerable women workers. We seem to be slipping backwards down a slope of zero hour contracts and changing terms and conditions under the guise of “outsourcing” (Don’t forget our catering staff.)

Let’s ALL celebrate International Women’s Day – Remember, it takes a strong man to live with a strong woman!


MarionYakovaMarion Yakova

Marion is a PhD researcher in Social Sciences, Media and Journalism, and is employed on a casual contract at GCU. She is the Postgraduate Rep on the UCU@GCU Committee

I am a trade union member because I believe that: people should feel secure in their work place, have job security, be paid for the job that they do and ALL the hours that they work, I want the university to stop employing people on casual hours contracts, and pensions should be protected. Ideally these would not be topics for debate but they are and the union provides support and solidarity to those when they need it.

On International Women’s day I will be celebrating the recent movements that have opened up a discursive space that allow women to come forward and speak up. Whilst the experiences the speak of are awful and things that no-one should have to endure, they have inspired women and men to collectively condemn the dominant patriarchal systems across all industry sectors that have paid women less, verbally abused them, taken them for granted etc.

I hope that universities stop taking advantage of people trying to start a career in academia by employing them on casual hour contracts (which are really zero hour contracts). I hope that in the future there is equality. I hope that people continue to stand up against bullies and I hope that time is up on patriarchal dominance.


Karen Lorimer

Karen is a Senior Research Fellow in Public Health, and sociologist, in the School of Health & Life Sciences/Institute for Applied Health Research at GCU.

I am a trade union member because as much as individuals can make an enormous difference, collective action and solidarity has the power to bring about significant societal transformation.

This International Women’s Day, I will be celebrating the many, many women from previous generations, as without their strengths, sacrifices and determination, I would not have the life I have nor the opportunities before me.  I will celebrate the women around the world today, fighting for justice and equality in all walks of life.  I celebrate the little girls, their life opportunities already impacted just for being born female, but I hope their futures are free of abuse and violence.  Time is up on misogyny; enough is enough!

I hope that in the future people’s lives and opportunities are not blighted by gender, postcode, skin colour or who one chooses to love.  We must strive to enable all people to live the life they have reason to value, as only then will we live in a just society.

Jen Broadhurst

Jen is a Postgraduate Researcher at GCU examining Basic Income

I am a trade union member because I strongly believe in the constructive ability of unions to make workplaces safer, more equal and essentially better places to be.

This International Women’s Day I will be celebrating the achievements of women and in particular celebrating the raising of one of Glasgow’s first statues to the power of women and collective campaigning; that of Mary Barbour who championed women’s rights and drove home a clear message that greed and elitism ought not to be tolerated in a fair society.

I hope that in the future, education for its own sake becomes fashionable once more and that corporatism is driven out of our higher education institutions, as through the sharing of ideas, ideals and collaborative values that seek to improve life for everyone, will we see a society in which everyone flourishes.

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History must never repeat itself – film and talk

Holocaust Memorial day 2018 will see a film and lecture sponsored by the GCU joint unions and the Students Association. This will take place on Wednesday 31st January – in M317 at 1pm

Journey to Safety – memories of the Kindertransport is a moving  and short (26 min) film that features testimony of three individuals whose life was saved by their transport out of Nazi Germany.

Following the film, Joanna de Groot, current president of the UCU will give a short talk regarding the rise of anti-semitism, and the power of words to do this. She will also reflect on her recent visit to Bosnia with the  charity Remembering Srebrenica.

Chaired by Nick McKerrell, on behalf of the joint campus unions, and supported by the Students Association, all staff and students are welcome.

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Deadline approaches over GCU NY licence application

Following the hearing held on May 22nd regarding the request by GCU to obtain an academic licence for its New York hub, a set of recommendations have been issued to the New York State Higher Education committee that will meet this month ‘where it will be voted on and action taken. It will then come before the full Board at its June 2017 meeting for final action’.

In the report, available here in a downloadable pdf, the department summarises the University’s case, and those of the objectors to GCU’s request.

It states that:

“GCNYC expects its year one enrolment across programs to be 40 students, split evenly between full-time and part-time students, and for enrolment to grow steadily each year. GCNYC’s expected year five enrolment is 118 full-time and 98 part-time students across all programs”.

In its academic review, the department states:

“The Department completed its initial review of GCNYC’s submitted proposals and has determined that the proposed programs meet the standards for registration (including those related to financial resources, faculty qualifications, curricula and awards) should the Board decide to grant a provisional charter”.

It summarises the objections as falling under the following general areas:

  1. GCNYC does not demonstrate actual need for a new degree-granting institution. GCNYC seeks to offer programs in a marketplace that is demonstrated to be already saturated with similar programs. (NYS institutions posit that GCU’s claims of need are not valid or remain unsubstantiated).
  2. GCNYC as an institution, and its proposed programs, are duplicative and in direct competition with several existing New York State institutions and their programs. The presence of a new institution would drain or diminish resources available for existing IHEs and negatively impact their operation.
  3. Granting a foreign institution degree-conferring authority as a NYS college which could ultimately allow it to access state and federal taxpayer monies would be precedent-setting, and could potentially open a floodgate of similar applications.

The Department then recommends that the Board of Regents approve one of the following options:

Option 1

VOTED: That the Board of Regents does not approve a Master Plan Amendment or a provisional charter for Glasgow Caledonian New York College; or

Option 2

VOTED: That the Board of Regents approve a Master Plan Amendment and grant Glasgow Caledonian New York College a five-year provisional charter, with the authority to offer programs in the discipline of Business, leading to the Master of Science (M.S.) degree.

It adds under the Timetable for implementation that:

If the Board of Regents votes to adopt Option 1, GCNYC’s applications for a provisional charter and a master plan amendment will be permanently closed.

If the Board of Regents adopts Option 2, the Department will issue it a provisional charter for five years and will register GCNYC’s programs. Pursuant to §3.22 of the Rules of the Board of Regents, during the term of a provisional charter, GCNYC would not have the authority to confer degrees and the Board of Regents would confer degrees to students who complete registered programs at GCNYC. GCNYC must apply to the Department for an absolute charter and authority to confer degrees at least 18-months prior to the expiration of the provisional period. At that point, the Board of Regents will make a determination on whether to grant GCNYC an absolute charter and authorize GCNYC to confer degrees or extend the provisional charter, or deny GCNYC any charter authority past the term of provisional authorization. If GCNYC does not apply for an absolute charter with the authority to confer degrees at least 18-months prior to the expiration of the provisional period, the provisional charter will expire at the end of its term.


GCU management has not yet given an opinion of this, but it is expected that the full Board of Regents will meet to decide the issue on June 16, and that Court, with whom responsibility ultimately lies,  will consider it the full decision at its meeting on the 22nd June.

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Lack of clarity over GCU New York hearing

Several reports in the Times newspaper today and yesterday, have suggested a higher level of opposition from New York Higher Educational establishments than had been understood to be the case, over GCU’s aim of establishing a New York hub, .

Although campus unions had understood that Monday’s hearing would be live streamed, this was not the case, although it is believed that the full Board meeting which announces the result of the deliberations on June 16th may be streamed live.

The case for the opening of a hub (now to be named a College, rather than a University) had been presented to the hearing in a 20 page document, downloadable here.

Staff had been assumed, from reports at Senate,  that most of the objections to GCU’s project had been dealt with, or were minor.

However, two reports yesterday and today, in the Times, suggested a higher level of opposition on several grounds.

The meeting was described by GCU management as ‘intense and prolonged’ and it was reported that the University “presented its case strongly” with the “challenges …. no less robust with much of the objection being founded on competition”

Yesterday’s report, downloadable here suggested that the application collided with ‘the protectionist America first rhetoric of President Trump’ at the hearing suggesting that:

“Glasgow Caledonian faces fierce opposition from local private universities, who claim that there are not enough students or employers to support the arrival of a new university. The protests are being made in a political climate that has shifted dramatically since the election of Mr Trump”

One of the three person Board of Regents, representing the state education department  reportedly said:

“the prevailing attitude in this country is America first. I think everyone knows that. American employers want to support our country and want to support our students.Why hire your student, as opposed to an . . . American educated student?”

Robert Clougherty, dean of the university’s New York base, reportedly countered this with the rather surprising view that  “We are seeking to open an American college, we are not necessarily a foreign institution.”

According to the Times, Cara Smyth, representing GCU went on to argue:

“it was seeking to offer something unique, with an international perspective, and with a focus on sustainability in business that had already proven attractive to scores of companies in New York”.

She said the Scottish bid had received support from Macy’s, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Eileen Fisher.

Ms Smyth added, according to the Times report, “that the campus was due to play host today to nearly 40 chief executives, from companies with a collective worth of $365 billion, as part of the outreach and convening work in the fashion industry that the college had conducted in the absence of any students”.

Support for the application came from Melanie Steiner, chief risk officer with the clothing company PVH Corp, which owns Calvin Klein, Speedo, and a host of other brands, who said her company struggles at present to find graduates with the training the new college would offer.

“I appreciate the point about America first,” she said. “But talent management has become fully global now.”

Yesterday’s Times article however ended by claiming that “Such arguments were loudly contradicted, however, by the leaders of private universities in New York city”.

The second report in today’s Times, downloadable here, focussed on the university’s plan to charge students almost $35,000 (£27,000) for a masters degree at its Manhattan base which they believed undermined claims that its expansion was aimed at helping the poor.

According to the Times, the university had said its desire to open a New York base was driven by a “defining social mission” which includes “creating a better and fairer world”.

Joseph Muriana, a vice-president at New York’s Fordham University, the oldest Catholic HE institution in the northeastern United States, and the third-oldest university in the state of New York however ‘ridiculed’ the idea that Glasgow Caledonian was seeking to cater for poorer students, pointing to the $34,650 cost of their masters degrees, which is mid-market in New York in terms of cost. The degrees would take one year to complete for a full-time student.

Mariana also warned that granting a foreign university the right to offer degrees in New York could “open the floodgates”, raising the prospect of more prestigious institutions opening offshoots on its doorstep.

Mr Muriana added: “An application from the University of Connecticut, or from Rutgers [in New Jersey] or UPenn [the University of Pennsylvania] to establish a campus in New York would be seen as absurd. The application from Glasgow Caledonian University should be seen in a similar light.”

The Times report ended by pointing out that a representative from the New York City Economic Development Corporation voiced strong support for the application and noted that it is understood that the university plans to offer scholarships in New York if its application is approved. A final ruling is expected next month on June 16th/17th.

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GCU Staff still hoping for dialogue regarding New York hub

A week after the third all-staff meeting expressing concern about the lack of clarity and dialogue over GCU’s New York hub, press reports suggest some confusion over the amount of support for the venture from other New York educational establishments (see follow on blog post above on the Times reports)

The meeting, called by all campus unions updated staff on the successful lobby of Holyrood, where 20 MSPs were in contact, or spoke directly to our cross union delegation. Staff were also informed of our regret that Court members had not taken the time to dialogue with concerned staff at the follow up lobby of their meeting in the Britannia building.
Staff at the meeting – who represented all 5 campus unions – were surprised that a response from the university from GCU to the Presiding Officer of Holyrood following his intimation of concern about the project, stated that opposition had been expressed ‘from only two unions’, and ‘supported by one union representative in particular’, and were also surprised to find that following a  letter of concern from John Mason MSP, the head of communications at GCU had suggested that the sum total of opposition to the project might be limited to the eight or so delegated union reps who had travelled to speak to MSPs.
It is unfortunate that rather than acknowledging the issues of concern from the academic, professional service and support staff, and student community, there seems to be a preference to suggest, the concern is really not there, or somehow it’s confined to a vocal and presumably unrepresentative minority.
When according to press reports, $15m has been invested in a project at a time of austerity – with no positive results as yet, then we need a serious and respectful discussion with staff, rather than a dismissal.
We also expect Court – where the responsibility lies to ensure that university management are given adequate guidance on strategy – to at least acknowledge that staff and students may have an opinion about this.

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Little willingness shown by GCU Court to discuss with staff

Despite staff concerns about the investment of up to £15million into a New York hub, which still does not have a licence, and no students, and a wages bill of over £500k, staff members attending the lobby of Court were disappointed that no Court members, apart from staff reps, took any time to discuss their concerns with them.

In a contrast with the attention given by MSPs at the previous week’s lobby of Holyrood, the Court seems to have given little thought to the increasing concern in the university community over the use of critical resources. Some Court members took the joint union leaflet requesting dialogue (found here), but others did not take the leaflet.

A short video of the event (only on twitter at the moment) can be seen here.

Last year, the normal meeting for staff to question the Chair of Court, and staff governors was cancelled, in favour of an invite to staff to attend  a lunch time buffet with some members of Court. At present there appear to be no plans to re-instate the yearly meeting – which was the only one which allowed a video link with staff in GCU London.

Likewise the Trade Unions who requested observer status pending the two places being made available for TU nominees have had their request postponed for future discussion later in the year by Court.

Neither have invites to Court representatives to observe all-staff meetings (which were expressing concern about New York) been taken up.

Minutes of Court meetings which ought to be on the university website have not been posted since March of last year.

In her response to a joint letter from the Campus unions, requesting that 5 minutes were spared to talk to staff at the lobby, the chair replied:

“Thank you for the information about CUC’s plans to lobby Court members tomorrow and the suggestion that I come to hear staff concerns about GCUNY.  I’m afraid the latter would be difficult as it is already a very full day.  This includes a Court lunch at 12.30, followed by a presentation on the Caledonian Club, and we will move immediately over to the Board Room for the Court meeting”.

She went on to assure the Trade Unions that

“GCUNY has been a prominent item on the Court’s agenda since it took the decision to establish a presence in NY and seek a licence to award degrees.  This vigilance will continue.”

Speaking to the lobby before going in to the meeting of Court, Staff representative Douglas Chalmers, assured those present that together with Davena Rankin, he would endeavour to convey the feelings of staff to Court on this and other issues.

It is understood that following the lobby, the intention of the CUC is to call a meeting of staff and ask the chair of Court to address staff concerns about this issue.

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GCU staff and students raise concerns about New York Hub at Scottish Parliament

MSPs from Glasgow and wider afield met the delegation and shared concerns over GCU New York

GCU staff and students brought their campaign for an independent investigation of the events surrounding the university’s New York hub, to Holyrood MSPs today.

Concerned MSPs, including the presiding officer had already been in touch with members of GCU staff regarding staff concerns about the expenditure of £10 million, including salaries of £250,000 plus for one staff member and over £100,000 for another. It is believed that there are four full-time staff employed at the hub, despite the campus having no students, and the hearing for the licence application being postponed yet again to the 22nd May, with a decision ‘likely to be taken by the Board of Regents in early June’

The delegation of union representatives from all campus unions, and notably also from the Students’ Association explained their concerns to MSPs and asked for their support for an independent inquiry.

A spokeswoman for the GCU Students Association said “Our Executive committee is deeply concerned at this stage about the future to recover expenditure from the GCU New York campus and the level of expenditure so far. This is particularly hard to take given the funding cuts we face on our Glasgow campus”.

Dr Nick McKerrell, Combined Union Convenor, said:

Staff are up in arms over the whole GCU New York project. This unnecessary extravagance has taken place when staff in Glasgow face the age of austerity. It is now three years behind schedule and has cost £10 million. This is despite not one student crossing the threshold as the application for a teaching licence has not been awarded. It looks like no proper due diligence was done initially, leaving us in this untenable situation. Both staff and students are now united in their calls for an independent investigation. There are serious financial questions to be answered.”

In a message to staff yesterday, GCU Principal Professor Pamela Gillies indicated that the campus once up and running would no longer be named a University, but would rather have the name of Glasgow Caledonian New York College,  ‘in line with naming of other higher education institutions in the USA’ .  Professor Gillies stated that ‘the application process has been rigorous and we have complied thoroughly with each aspect. This has included our investment in premises designed to meet the requirements of NYSED, as part of our application’. She also stated that ‘there was no possibility of a licence without our holding suitable educational premises’, adding ‘we are now at a very advanced stage of NYSED’s application process with some encouraging signs of a good outcome, although nothing can be assumed’.

The University Court has been notably silent on the issue of GCU New York. This year the standard practice of a meeting for all staff to question the Chair, lay governors and staff governors was replaced by a chance for staff to chat over lunch with Court members. Invitations to Court representatives to attend and observe all staff meetings have not been taken up.  Staff are now hoping that the Court will talk to staff regarding their concerns about the continuing situation at our New York hub.

In 1998 a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General into events at that time in GCU referred to the need for continual critical scrutiny by Court of management actions. In the words of the report, which still merit attention.

“The Council were concerned that, where lay governors are greatly dependent on the executive for information, there is a danger of creating a culture in which the governing body place too much reliance on such information without being in a position to critically evaluate it. In such cases senior management may effectively control the form and content of how issues are presented and limit and restrict any challenge from lay governors. The Council concluded that in a number of instances at the University the Court did not receive adequate information”.

It is important that the Court makes it clear what the case is for the New York hub and how their monitoring has been carried out.


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Victory for GCU Catering workers – no jobs to be lost

Campus Unions reacted positively to the news today that an apparently positive ending had been reached to the catering fiasco which had been threatening Cordia workers jobs. According to a statement from the university, reported in the Evening Times here, an agreement has been reached to transfer the catering contract to BaxterStorey with staff now being offered the opportunity to transfer to the new company under TUPE regulations.

As originally reported in Caledonianunion, the proposals first put forward seemed likely to lead to a massive loss of jobs, and such was the anger of staff and students that following a long campaign with the city unions that represented the Cordia staff, a temporary reprieve was granted (  After this staff at a mass meeting voted if jobs were to be lost, to boycott any new outlets, (, and concerns were raised in the Scottish Parliament about the university’s handling of the issue: (

Campus unions had argued that catering should be taken ‘in-house’ as is the case in many other universities, but could not sway management in favour of this.

However, our main task of safeguarding Cordia workers jobs and pensions has been successful but we will be maintaining a watching brief on how the handover progresses and how the transition is achieved. And of course our admiration goes out to the women and men in GCU catering who have served us so well over the years, and who stuck together in the long battle to eventually win victory.

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