Urgent: please respond to our questions listed at the end of the email – the answers can be very short (Y/N), or as detalied as you’d like!
You may know that the University of Birmingham has been in the national news this week. Matthew Hedges, a Durham University Research Student who is currently in an Abu Dhabi prison (sentenced to life in prison), accused of spying (due to the research he was conducting) after a 5-minute trial conducted in Arabic. We think the trial was unfair and the University of Birmingham has a responsibility to make a public statement in support of Matthew Hedges.
Unfortunately, Prof Tim Jones’ email sent to all staff today fell short of that and showed just how much they are trying to stay silent over this whole issue and absolving themselves of any responsibility to stand up against Matthew’s unfair treatment. Almost anyone from UoB who undertakes or supports research projects could have been in Matthew Hedges’ situation. Jones’ email also states that ‘indeed in most instances staff have actively applied for these roles’ – we are worried about the implications of the use of term ‘most instances’. We wonder: how have staff who’ve not actively applied for these roles been treated?
Yesterday’s all-staff meeting was very well attended, and we were accompanied by Roger Godsiff, MP for Hall Green, who spoke against the University’s shameful refusal to become an Accredited Living Wage Employer. At the meeting, we also launched the Trade Unions’ report that includes the joint demands that all unions on campus want the university to negotiate with us on. One of the demands focuses on the Dubai campus.
The UCU branch (representing academic and academic-related staff) on campus passed a motion to boycott teaching on the Dubai campus, and this was reported in The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Middle East Eye, BBC, Birmingham Mail,Times Higher Education and other newspapers, as well as ITV and other TV channels and radio stations. Everyone else in the room also showed their support for the motion.
We would like to hear about your experiences of working on anything related to the Dubai campus. Please answer:
1. Would you feel safe if you are asked to go to work in Dubai?
2. Do you understand how far the university would protect you if there were a problem?
3. Is our campus in Dubai against our values as a university?
4. Have you been forced to work on the Dubai tasks against your will?
5. Do you think that the Dubai campus can be potentially positive? – if so how? (you can email us more detailed replies if you like.)