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January 15, 2009

University refuses to answer questions on financial health

Questions surround the University of Warwick’s financial state after it refused to give details of its budget forecasts and plans for this year and the near future.

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from RaW, the University decided “to withhold information relating to forecasts and budgets, including the five year financial plan”.

Citing Section 43 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Deputy Registrar informed RaW the request had been “carefully considered, but that “Information is exempt if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it)”.

Nevertheless, Peter Dunn, the University’s spokesman, has said that “despite the global economic downturn the University remains confident that that it has a sufficiently diverse range of funding streams to meet the challenges posed by such a global downturn.”

Mr Dunn refused to use the term “well placed” on grounds of ambiguity.

The Students’ Union, which is facing a deficit this year of nearly £0.75 million has also expressed confidence in the University, from which it receives a significant annual grant.

Andy Glyde, the Union’s Governance and Finance Officer said: “We have no concerns over our annual allocation from the University as a result of the recession. We are confident that the University will be able to ride this wave and continue to support the work of the SU.”

“They have been sensible with their money and in the past have shown the capability to deal with pressures externally on funding. In the 80s when HE [Higher Education] funding was cut by the Thatcher government, Warwick was at the forefront to developing alternative sources of income in order to cope with the declining funding.”

Mr Glyde who was limited in what he could say, added that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the University’s financial health.

He also believed that the University had a “reasonable reason to refuse the information” requested by RaW.

“You have to remember that the University runs a fairly substantial commercial operation in order to help fund the activities of the institution. They are not a member organisation like the Union and so are not accountable to students on their finances…. Release of financial information could damage them against competitors.”

Given the deteriorating economic outlook, the University may have greater impetus to protect sensitive financial information.

Last year’s statement of accounts of the University indicated that the University’s surplus had fallen to £2.9 million, a fall from a peak of £11.9 million in 2005/06.

For the year ending July 2008, it blamed the fall in the surplus on “strategic investment” and “increases in staff costs following the most recent national pay agreements”.

In the Treasurer’s report it was stated: “We expect the current year to be a demanding financial environment. We have significant inflationary pressures … The investigation of new and growing sources of income, alongside cost saving and efficiency initiatives, is a priority to help compensate for inflationary cost pressures.”

In the short term the University remains ”...confident that the financial outcome for the current year will be acceptable in the circumstances.”

As for student’s job prospects, the University indicated that Warwick Careers service would be “very receptive” to any new internship opportunities which become available from the new “government scheme or elsewhere”.

However, it was less on clear on whether the institution would be doing anything particularly different this year to help graduating students.

Instead, spokesman Mr Dunn says that students will be able to welcome recent media coverage “suggesting that while city firms are reducing the number of Universities they look to recruit from…they are still looking at Warwick as one of their sources of recruits”.

Sam Shirley


June 12, 2008

Warwick Student Cinema: Relocation?

Last week Hannah Smith reported on the problems Warwick Student Cinema are facing regarding new laboratories which are to be built underneath L3 on the Science Concourse, which is home to the screen of WSC. What we know already is that a relocation for the society will cost around £40,000, which is a staggering amount. Unfortunately, a representative from Warwick Student Cinema was unavailable for comment on this issue but the Students Union released the following statement today:

The Students’ Union is of course supporting Warwick Student Cinema with
the issue of new science labs underneath L3. The lines of communication
between the Students’ Union, the department and the wider University
administration are open and clear, and all parties are keen to work
towards a mutually beneficial solution. There is certainly not an
adversarial approach being taken by anyone involved.

At this stage it is impossible to know the outcome of the situation, and
the Students’ Union for its part is working hard to resolve the issue as
soon as possible. It is important to note that the fact discussions are
being had makes it clear there is a recognition throughout the
University of the importance of student-led extra curricular activity.

From there the issue appears to be being dealt with amicably and we will keep you updated on this story, what it means for the WSC. Hopefully we can get a response from the society for next week’s show. As always if you are a member of WSC or simply enjoy the films they show, do email in and let us know what you think on studio@radio.warwick.ac.uk.


March 15, 2008

Warwick Atheists lose Best New Society Award

With the headline in the Boar shouting “I don’t believe it” when it came to the news that Warwick Atheists had won Best New Society Award two weeks ago, the famous catchphrase seems to have been proven correct. On the last day of term, the Union decided to revoke the Society’s award and the accompanying £100 they had won. At the centre of this decision and sudden acrimony between the society and the Union’s Welfare Officer, are the posters depicting religions being disposed of in a bin. Their inspiration might very well have come from the campaign to keep the No Platform Policy, who used a symbol of a person binning a swastika, but it seems that Atheist version led to a ‘number of complaints’.Boar Front Page Week 10

According to the Union, the Executive Committee of the Warwick Atheists Society was sent an e-mail regarding the posters that were put up around campus entitled ‘The Importance of Atheism’. The society’s executive was informed that these posters were in the process of being taken down, and that we would be in contact again once the issue had been dealt with in the appropriate manner. Indeed, Ed Callow was seen taking them down with much determination. The main image within the posters themselves was of an individual discarding the symbols of nine major global religions into a litter bin, with the tagline “It’s time to take out the trash” written at the bottom. The Union claims that they included a level of unnecessary and discriminatory language which included: “If you’re sick and tired of hearing “it’s my faith” used as a smokescreen for ridiculous viewpoints, come and take a look at what we have to say”.

The Union has also taken the decision to ban the reproduction of the image in any other publication or media. They have claimed that the “The bounds of the Equal Opportunities Appendix apply to reproductions of these posters in the same way as the posters themselves”.

According to sources close to the Warwick Atheists new Exec, the society is planning to to appeal the decision. Indeed, their main argument against revoking their award was that they were judged on their progress throughout the year, not afterwards. However, the Union takes a different view; ‘Even though this publicity went up after the distribution of awards, given that the criteria include ‘Commitment to Equal Opportunities’, ‘Good intersociety relations’ and ‘Contribution to the Union / wider University environment’, it was felt that this breach was serious enough to merit withdrawal of this honour for the 2007/2008 academic year.’

It seems that Warwick Atheists are not prepared to sit back and accept the Union’s judgment. On an unofficial blog called ‘ToolChronicles’, the ‘Chronicler’ – an anonymous ‘individual’ who according to the ‘webmaster’, doesn’t represent Warwick Atheists, highlighted the words ‘Fuck You Ed’, evidently referring to the Welfare Officer, and he/she defends Warwick Atheists position: “We’ve produced nothing as or more offensive than has been seen in the past, and it was merely a free expression of a valid viewpoint held by a great many people. Religion is mocked in every form of entertainment we have nowadays. We weren’t even doing that. This poster is not offensive to average people. A minority, an incorrectly outspoken minority at that, expressed that it offended their sensitive theistic values.”

The issue does raise questions about freedom of speech and sensitivity towards different religions. After the recent Referendum decision to now allow racists and fascists into the Union, the debate about information will not rest. Warwick students will now enjoy a rift between Mr Callow and Warwick Atheists. The ‘Chronicler’ stated “We’re taking it to appeal, and we’re going to fight it every step of the way. Bring it on, Callow.”

To visit the Warwick Atheists’ website click here.

To visit the blog Tool Chronicles, click here.

For the Students’ Union website, click here.

RaW News is not responsible for the content of these external websites.

Sam Shirley
Outgoing Head of News


March 05, 2008

Students Win Change on Recycling in Halls

At a meeting of the University Environment Committee last Thursday 21st February 2008, the Students’ Union gained University officials’ commitment to implementing recycling in every kitchen on campus. The meeting was especially timely given that it took place during Go Green Week. As a result of the meeting, the Union resolved to collaborate with Warwick Accommodation and Estates in implementing this scheme by September 2008.

Many students have contributed to the campaign over the years. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, 3000 signatures were gained during Go Green Week, Paul Smyth – Union Environment Officer and Campaigns Committee Chair 2004-6 – stands out as a champion of the environment by demanding that Recycling in Halls to be brought in, cuts in Carbon dioxide emissions and he succeeded in lobbying for An Environment Officer to be appointed.

This year Union President Joe Kirby demanded that students be included in the negotiations for the university waste contract in January and he managed to secure a clause in the contract. This stated that any company who won the tender would be required to remove mixed recyclables from halls and separate them off site. This enabled the University and Union to devise a scheme with one bin for waste, and one mixed recycling bin for tins, cans, plastic and cardboard.

Go Green Coordinators Hannah Smith, Kate Shayler and Alex Fowles have been collecting signatures this year to reinforce the demand for recycling on campus and were instrumental in setting up direct action by several students involved in Go Green Week this year to lobby the University in its own place at University House, which was crucial to the final decision taken at the Committee.

According to to Warwick’s Environment Officer Nick Hillard, the scheme is set to hit recycling rates of 90% cross-campus, comparing with the current some-what dismal rate of 11%. However, there is still a long way to go before recycling is finally delivered in every hall. A Coordinator of Go Green Week said:

‘People and Planet Society have been campaigning on this issue for many years now and have compiled several thousand signatures from students insisting upon the matter. In fact for many, recycling in halls has been the largest issue of contention when analysing the university’s environmental impact. Go Green Week this year was very heavily focussed on pressuring the University to commit to a deadline for the installation and it seems as though the endless petitioning, meetings with the environmental committee and implementation of Union Policy has finally paid off, thanks to the help of Warwick’s environmental officer, Nick Hillard and the many students who have been involved in Go Green Week over the past few years.

‘Personally, I see this as a huge achievement for the People and Planet Society and I would like to thank all of those who have been instrumental; it is very rewarding to see the hard work of so many finally paying off.

‘It is now time to reassess the direction of student action on campus and re-focus our energies on new projects, as this chapter is drawing to its conclusion.’

The fine details of implementation of this scheme are as yet to be decided upon and The Union and the University will be working together to deliver this. In an Interview with RaW News, Union President Joe Kirby and Go Green Coordinator Alex Fowles expressed their views on where the University, the Students Union and active individuals go from here.
Click on the link to hear the interview and please do leave any comments in the section below.

Hannah Smith
Head of News

Go Green Students


February 20, 2008

Gadsby–Peet calls for students to reclaim Saturday nights

The Union’s Communications Officer, James Gadsby-Peet, has launched a new campaign which he has styled ‘Sat_your_day’ in response to ever-growing criticism of Flirt, the current Saturday night event in the Students Union. Flirt is a brand that has been developed nationally by the NUS, but it has proved very unpopular with some sections of the Warwick student body. With the ‘Get Flirt Out of Warwick’ Facebook group now boasting over 900 members, Gadsby-Peet is offering students the chance to attend a meeting and offer ideas for the union event on Saturday of Week 8. If the event is a success, he sees no reason why this can not be rolled out to other events, meaning that perhaps Flirt may be on its way out of Warwick. Listen to what James Gadsby-Peet had to say when Political Correspondent Andrew O’Brien spoke to him earlier.

http://www.radio.warwick.ac.uk/~sdobson/gaddsbypeetflirt.wav

Scott Dobson
Chief Political Correspondent


February 02, 2008

Presidential debate – to help you choose who you want running the Union

All the presidential candidates for this coming week’s Students’ Union Elections were interviewed together on RaW News Insight. We tackled them on their proposals, personal qualities, and how much they really knew about your Union with a multimillion pound turnover.

Who are they and what do they do?

Their reasons for standing and what they know about union finances:

POLICY – we unleash our our political correspondent attack dog Andrew O’Brien (this clip has the best information and entertainment value):

Please leave your comments below. They will feature on Big D on Elections night…

And a post debate review:

See the debate as it happened…

Want to know about the Governance and Finance Officer Candidates? Well, Chris Beckett, Chief Business Correspondent brought Ross Palmer and Andy Glyde head to head to see what they would do:

Please leave your comments below. What do you think of the candidates? What policy would you like to see?


January 30, 2008

Union deficit may be just short of £200,000.

It is believed the the Students’ Union is heading for an even larger deficit than last year. In an interview with RaW News, Tom Callow – this year’s Finance Officer has said that the Union is trying to avoid a worsening situation. The deficit seems to be heading to a figure of over 100,000 pounds, but will absorbed by the Union’s reserves, which are supposedly over half a million pounds.

However, there are questions over the sustainability of maintaining such a deficit. Next year’s Finance Officer will have to reconcile the need to balance the books and maintaining current society funding levels. Tom Lindsay, the current SSDO believes that if the Union were doing badly, society funding would not be as adversely affected because much of the money comes from the subscription fees, but it would be affected nevertheless. If one takes a look at last year’s figures, there might be a greater need to focus on finding efficiencies in the £2.7 million wage bill compared to the relatively meagre £460,000 sports club and society costs.

We have just the Statement regarding the Students’ Union’s finances:

The Student’s Union has a deficit budget for the year 2007/08, but intends to restrict this deficit to less than £200,000. This figure is based on the budgeted deficit before contingencies, which are regularly used in any standard business planning.

The redevelopment of the Union South building was originally planned to begin in April, but the planned start date has now been pushed back to the end of the academic year. This is clearly beneficial to our members as there will be less disruption, but it also means income will be retained through our commercial services within Union South that was not included in the budget.

Our annual re-forecasting process will take place soon that will provide a much clearer picture of the financial state of the Union by the end of the year.

As always, there are plans in place to ensure the financial security of the Students’ Union in the long-term. The University is fully supportive of these and of our current budget.

This came from Tom Callow -Finance, Democracy and Strategy Officer

You can listen to the interview with the Finance Officer here where he was given the chance to reflect on his many manifesto promises, including cheaper drinks offers,and an increase of awareness of union democracy, to see whether or not he had fulfilled the promises made a year ago.:


May 27, 2006

Lecturers' Strike latest

Want to keep in touch with the AUT strike?

Subscribe to the RaW News podcast for daily updates on the 'action short of a strike'.

There'll be daily bulletins at 5pm, plus a one–hour special on Thursday night.

On today's Podcast:

  • Higher Education minister gets booed
  • Students Union calls EGM
  • Aberdeen suspends lecturers' pay
  • And more…

Listen to the podcast here


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