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Queen’s University Belfast suspended from Ucea

Institution kicked out of employers’ organisation for three years after striking local pay deal

Queen’s University Belfast has been suspended from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association for three years after breaking from national negotiations and striking a local deal on pay and conditions.

On 28 June, QUB announced that it had reached an agreement with the University and College Union on pay and conditions, which it said was the “first settlement of its kind”. The deal was struck to end an ongoing University and College Union marking and assessment boycott that is impacting about 150 institutions across the UK.

The boycott is in protest against a nationally agreed pay deal that the UCU deems to be unacceptable. 

On 11 July, Ucea said that QUB had “opted into collective pay negotiations for 2023-24 and was, therefore, expected to follow the Ucea code”. 

It added: “The Ucea board has now had a chance to consider the representations from QUB and has concluded that this is an extremely serious matter and that the actions of QUB are incompatible with continued membership of Ucea.

“Accordingly, the board has informed QUB of its decision to terminate their Ucea membership for a period of three years in the first instance.”

A QUB statement in response said that the university “has always placed our students first”.

“Our students were [among] the first in the UK to have their graduation affected by the UCU marking and assessment boycott,” it said.

“In the absence of any progress being made nationally regarding the industrial action, the local arrangement between Queen’s branch of the UCU and the university allowed us to conduct 22 graduation ceremonies for our students and enable them to celebrate their success with their families and friends.”

A version of this article appeared in Research Fortnight