Union message to LSE: hands off our annex

Union defends LSE’s ‘academic annex’ against management plans for reform. Jack Grove reports

April 25, 2013

London School of Economics staff have hit out at moves to alter rules that they say safeguard academic freedom at the institution.

The LSE has put forward plans to reform the “academic annex”, which outlines employment procedures for all academics and researchers, including what happens in the event of disciplinary action, redundancy or dismissal.

However, the institution’s University and College Union branch has argued that the plans amount to the abolition of the annex, which it says was introduced to provide “mild employment protections for academic freedom” in light of the end of formal tenure in 1988.

In a statement to members, the branch claimed that extra protection was vital at the LSE because “social sciences are especially vulnerable with regard to academic freedom because of [the] proliferation of competing paradigms, differences in method and their tendency to challenge prevailing economic, social and political orthodoxies”.

“Removing the safety frame from a high performance racing car and replacing it with that of a conventional family car is unlikely to make it safer,” the UCU adds.

However, the LSE claimed that the annex required modernisation because the rules “not only contravene best practice, but also employment law”. It said the changes would not increase job insecurity or undermine academic freedom.

Measures to address what the LSE calls “cumbersome” and “unhelpful” procedures have been particularly criticised, with the UCU insisting, for example, that independent legal experts should continue to play a major part in the university’s performance management and dismissal proceedings. Devolving such work to heads of department and human resources would be unwelcome, the UCU added.

It also said that the LSE’s plans to alter procedures to prevent formal grievance hearings were misguided.

“The adversarial nature of proceedings is inherent in any attempt to deprive an individual of his or her livelihood,” the statement argues.

While the union branch is willing to discuss reform of the annex, it said it will not countenance the “replacement of what is…fair by what is convenient for management”.

The row follows similar uproar at University College London, which is seeking to update its statute 18 - a similar clause to the LSE annex.

An LSE spokesman said the plans would ensure its staff “have the freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges”.


You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show