State of the Union

The Student’s Union has been a consistent source of stories this year, from the cancellation of Grad Ball to the threats of legal action issued against the City Council over planning permission for the Sugarhouse Development.

But one of their most controversial actions involved an anti-racist conference and a Trotskyist-revolutionary hard left party. The Student’s Union promoted and sponsored students to go to a Stand up to Racism conference, an organisation thought to be heavily linked to the Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP).

The SWP has been deeply controversial since 2013 allegations of rape apologism by the party leadership (the SWP has consistently denied mishandling the case in question). The Student’s Union was slammed by political and liberation societies on campus, who described Union support for the event as “unacceptable”.

Officers apologised after the publication of the SCAN story detailing the events, and pledged that the Union’s procedures would be reformed for the future.

One strike and out

One of the major stories this year has been the four weeks of strikes caused by a confrontation between Universities UK and the major union representing University workers, the UCU.

The strikes saw thousands of students miss out on lectures, bringing second term to a standstill and forcing departments to give their student’s the exam questions in advance in compensation.

SCAN’s coverage was up to the minute and occasionally breaking, such as when we reported on the disproportionate weighting held by Oxbridge colleges in the USS Consultation vote, beating the Guardian to the story by eight hours.

At the time of writing, the strikes have been resolved by compromise, though this may not hold. The next battleground will be on the fight for compensation; in this issue we have an interview with one student taking the University to court over reparations for lost lecture time.

Did the prospectus deceive us?

The University landed in hot water after a SCAN investigation revealed that it had broken Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines in material sent to tens of thousands of prospective students.

The 2017 prospectus contained the claim that Lancaster had the “best accommodation in the country”. This was based on a ranking by Red Brick Research – which Lancaster employs to carry out in-house student surveys – that failed to include many of Lancaster’s major competitor institutions.

This would prove to be a running sore for the University, as their UA92 campus in Manchester was forced to pulp and reprint thousands of prospectus’ after a complaint about advertising the availability of football pitches as yet subject to planning permission approval.

Spineless

The redevelopment of the spine has reshaped the university, dominating both the lives of students weaving between the works, and the headlines of SCAN.

Whether it’s been disruption to campus business, the repavement of slabs after they were found to be non-water resistant, or the narrowing scope of the redevelopment after the wetlands were ditched to meet deadlines, Design the Spine has been a source of many stories over the year.

Current projections put the redevelopment completion date just before the start of next term, so this may well be the last drop of ink spilled on the subject. Student discontent about the rate of construction may well remain however; SCAN’s revelation of the estimated £50,000 cost of the screen installed on Alex Square has been a running joke among students.

Grad Balls-up

For the first time in recent history, Grad Ball was cancelled, after complaints of a lacklustre line-up and concerns about the Union’s ability to cover losses after a University-wide funding cut.

With student anger over the hiring of the on-campus Great Hall as a venue rather than Blackpool Tower, as had been tradition in the past few years, a rival event was set up, and from that point it was inevitable that one would be forced to fold.

SCAN’s online story breaking the news was one of our most viewed in our virtual history. Small comfort for the student’s left without an event, although the reports of massively disappointing ticket sales suggest few will be actually be looking for a refund.

Top 10 Uni, Top 3 for Gender Pay Gap

Lancaster University enters muddy water and ranks third for the largest gender pay gap amidst UK Universities.

Gender pay gap regulations require companies employing more than 250 staff to report the difference between their male and female employees’ average earnings. The largest pay gap was found at London Business School, where women’s mean hourly salary was 45% lower than men’s.

The second largest gap, a mean average of 30%, was found at the Royal Veterinary College, while Lancaster University and Harper Adams University share third place on 27.7%. Out of the universities in the top 10 of all three UK league tables, Lancaster has the largest gender pay gap.

The University’s gender pay gap is far higher than the average median gender pay gap of the education sector which stands at 20%. Analysis of the data by Times Higher Education shows that Lancaster University’s gender pay gap data is greater than that of many other UK Universities.

Professor Gail Whiteman, Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business in the Management School says that Lancaster University’s gender pay gap is “far behind peers: Unacceptable in a top 10 university”, tweeting #everydaysexism. The next steps will see how the University and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team will work to reduce the gender pay gap and ensuring equality.

The SCAN News team have covered plenty of great breaking news stories and events across campus and in the city. In the following year, SCAN promises to keep you up-to-date on stories concerning students and the city of Lancaster. We would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to our readers and writers for their continued support. We look forward to next year, with the hope of more interesting news stories, writers and readers.