Featured image: Students and staff protest in Alexandra Square during the 2019 UCU strike.
More than three-quarters of Lancaster University students voting in a Students' Union referendum have voted to express that they have no confidence in the vice-chancellor and senior university management.
In a statement published on social media this evening, the victorious 'No' campaign said, "This is a resounding result and shows that students have had enough of uni management putting profit over our well-being . . . The message from students is clear: the VC and senior management must go."
The referendum was triggered by a petition on the LUSU website which listed a series of grievances which it claimed proved management's "unwillingness to prioritise student and staff welfare above the financial interests of the University." Foremost amongst these was the University's response to pandemic, especially this term's rent strike and last term's food box scandal. Other issues raised in the campaign were the University's management bullying crisis and senior managers' eye-watering six-figure salaries.
The 'No' campaign received 919 votes, which is more votes than was received by any of the candidates who stood in last week's LUSU sabbatical officer elections. Just 209 students votes 'Yes', to say that they do have confidence in management, and 85 abstained.
In their manifesto, the 'No' campaign said that a 'No' victory would enable LUSU "to advocate for the removal of the VC from office and to lay the foundations for a new and democratic University. This will send a clear message to management who have previously refused to listen to students on the grounds that they consider the Students' Union the only ‘official’ voice of the Lancaster student body: by declaring that the Students' Union has no confidence in the VC or his team, we’ll be forcing them to listen."
The referendum had a turnout of 7.3%, which is short of the 10% threshold required to for the result to formally be adopted as LUSU policy under its current constitution. LUSU President Oliver Robinson said, "Whilst this referendum is not quorate and therefore does not directly set policy, the margin of victory for No Confidence is enormous." As part of a proposed series of constitutional reforms, Robinson is supporting reducing the quoracy requirement for LUSU referendums to 5%.
Also today, students at Manchester University passed a vote of no confidence in their university's VC and management by a margin of 89% in a SU referendum, with a turnout of 13%. Following the result, Manchester's Board of Governors published a statement saying that they have "full confidence" in the University's senior leadership.