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University of Surrey to Change Leadership Structure After Vote of No Confidence

Published on: 29 May, 2019
Updated on: 31 May, 2019

By Chris Jewers

The University of Surrey has agreed to change its leadership structure after a vote of no-confidence last week (May 17), said Dr Alex Harden, president of the student union (USSU).

In an email to all students, Dr Harden wrote: “I have had positive meetings with both senior university colleagues and those from Council (the university’s highest oversight committee), who have been very keen to better understand issues from students and what we can do to ensure your feedback results in future improvements.”

In the “Surrey decides” referendum, 2,030 students (84 per cent of voters) cast a “no” vote, signalling that they felt the university’s leadership and governing bodies were not satisfactory, and that change had to happen.

A spokesperson for the University said: “We are committed to continuing to work with all staff, students and unions to build an even better University.”

Max Lu, vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey.

In a separate vote, 94 per cent of members of the University and College Union (UCU) said they had no confidence in the vice-chancellor, Professor Max Lu, and the board.

The vote stemmed from an announcement in February from Professor Lu, one of the best-paid university bosses in England, that the university had a budget deficit of £15million a year.

Students and staff were angry after the university paid a £15,000 relocation expenses claim to Professor Lu, which included £1,600 to bring his dog from Australia.

The vice-chancellor sent a message to staff and students, writing: “Although only 14% of students participated in the referendum, I’m of course disappointed that so many of those who voted expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the governing bodies.

“The voters represent a small fraction of our student population, nonetheless I do take note of some of the underlying issues and want to work with you to address them.”

A university spokesperson said: “Although the turnout of the union vote has not been made public, nor has the union responded to concerns raised to us by staff about the accuracy and legality of the online voting process, we are sad that any number of staff voted this way.

“Like many universities, we face significant challenges which mean we have had to make difficult decisions to save money. But we have now achieved the required savings target of £15m and have placed the university on a much more secure footing. We have no plans for compulsory redundancies at this time.

“We are committed to continuing to work with all staff, students and unions to build an even better university.”

Since the vote, some students have begun taking direct action over budget cuts. The university’s theatre department is occupying Guildford School of Acting to protest at cuts to the department.

University of Surrey theatre students undertake a sit-in to protest budget cuts to their department.

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test One Response to University of Surrey to Change Leadership Structure After Vote of No Confidence

  1. Eric Gurney Reply

    June 23, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Are there any updates on what is happening at the University re job cuts, restructuring, course closures? There is nothing on their website about this.

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