External examiners for Liverpool Law School today resigned en masse over Liverpool University management’s threats to students. With the authors’ permission we reproduce the letter below. Solidarity with everyone striking this week!
We, the undersigned, have tendered our collective resignation from the School of Law and Social Justice at the University of Liverpool in protest at the University’s advice to students in respect of the UCU industrial action which begins today (Monday, 25 November) and expected to last until Wednesday, 4 December.
We have taken this decision out of concern at the University of Liverpool’s misrepresentation of the law regarding support for official pickets and its weaponising of the UK immigration system against visa-holding students.
The University of Liverpool, in an email signed off by Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Gavin Brown on Friday, 22 November, warned students that it is unlawful to join pickets and that if they choose not to attend any lectures or tutorials, they will be marked as absent with an effect on their attendance record and that they may not have access to alternative learning materials and no consideration will be given to these absences at exam boards. Further, the University warned international students that should they choose not to cross picket lines to attend teaching sessions, they risk jeopardising their visa because the University’s usual policy on absences among international students will apply. The University’s policy can be found here.
As examiners, we are especially concerned by the failure to assure students that it is entirely lawful to support an official picket at the same time as informing them that joining a picket per se is unlawful for non-Union members. We are also deeply concerned by the University’s weaponisation of the UK’s immigration system by failing to put into place systems for visa holding students to ensure that they can support action by not crossing a picket line, should that be their choice. Other institutions are putting in place appropriate systems for their protection, respectful of diversity of opinion and conscience across their university community.
Universities rely on the modestly remunerated work and collegiality of external examiners to deliver their programmes. We are grateful for, impressed by, and supportive of the excellent educational work undertaken by our colleagues in Liverpool.
However, in the light of what we consider to be a combative and intimidatory approach to student support for industrial action, we cannot continue to support the University of Liverpool through the provision of our labour.
We urge other external examiners who are similarly concerned with the University of Liverpool policy to do the same.
Prof Fiona de Londras, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham
Dr Natasa Mavronicola, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham
Dr Jed Meers, York Law School, University of York
Dr Yoriko Otomo, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Prof Sally Sheldon, Kent Law School, University of Kent
Dr Celine Tan, School of Law, University of Warwick
Dr Anil Yilmaz Vastardis, School of Law, University of Essex
The full text of our resignation can be found here.