Endorsement: Sophie Jones, Birkbeck, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Sophie Jones, Birkbeck, University of London

I wholeheartedly endorse Jo Grady for General Secretary of UCU. Her manifesto not only presents bold, informed proposals on the main crises facing our sectorcasualisation, marketisation, the hostile environment, overwork, institutional racism and sexismbut shows a refreshing understanding of how these issues are interlinked. The UCU leadership has often seemed to operate at a distance from the everyday impact of these problems, paying lip service to ‘casualisation’ and ‘equality’ without offering a meaningful, imaginative programme of action that engages with multiple arenas of struggle. Jo Grady’s commitment to working with rather than for members to develop such a programme is exciting to me: her vision for a transparent, democratised, proactive union is exactly what we need right now.

Endorsement: Michael Abberton, Cambridge Assessment English

Endorsement from Mr Michael Abberton, Senior Assessment Manager and UCU Healthy and Safety Rep, Cambridge Assessment English

Last week I attended the General Secretary hustings in Cambridge and now I’m wholly endorsing Jo Grady and I’d recommend that you look at her website and manifesto.

What the union needs right now certainly is not factionalism, confrontation and disunity. It needs to recognise that we are part of a wider trade union movementthe USS strike was won not because of any individual member or officer, or any interior pressure group, but because of solidarity between members and frankly would have been dead in the water without the support of the NUS. Jo was the only candidate to mention this at the hustings putting unity inside and outside the union as a priority.

Jo comes with no baggage and treats everyone with respect. She isn’t a career union officer but is coming straight from the chalkface. At Sheffield and Leicester she has certainly stood up and fought when the need arises, but doesn’t use confrontation or a union rulebook as her first recourse.

So please consider Jo as your candidate, but most importantly, please vote!

Endorsement: Lindsay Wright, University College London

Endorsement from Ms Lindsay Wright, Communications and Marketing Manager, University College London

Here is Lindsay’s endorsement video for the #Grady4GS campaign! Thank you for your support!

You can see it on Twitter or on YouTube (below). The transcript is at the bottom.


Hello my name is Lindsay Wright and I’ve worked in the HE sector in professional services as communications manager for nearly 20 years in a number of London universities.

I’ve just filled in my ballot paper in the General Secretary vote. And I’ve put Jo Grady as my first choice. I’ve chosen Jo Grady because I believe she is the only candidate able to achieve equality for professional services and academic staff.

And that’s why she’s getting my vote, and that’s why she should get your vote too!

Endorsement: Christienna Fryar, University of Liverpool

Endorsement from Dr Christienna Fryar, University of Liverpool

When I moved to this country almost two years ago to take up a lectureship, I found an HE sector plunged into severe interlocking crises that pose an existential threat to university education. Workload crises and overweening bureaucracy combined with obsession with meaningless metrics all shift our focus away from what’s meaningful. Our union should be leading the fight against these crises, but it is clearly out of touch with members in all post-16 education sectors and has not figured out how to tackle these fast-multiplying threats. Jo Grady was a standout presence on Twitter during the USS strike, providing clear explanations and information when national UCU failed to do so. Her manifesto is exciting and presents a real vision for an inclusive, responsive, union that fights for our ability to work with dignity and return tertiary education to the public good that it should be. I endorse Jo Grady for General Secretary.

Endorsement: Alan Bogg, University of Bristol

Endorsement from Professor Alan Bogg, University of Bristol

I am delighted to add my endorsement to Jo Grady’s candidacy. The crisis in Higher Education is systemic and political. Precarity, hostile environment policies, austerity, and the slow strangulation of a precious public good through pernicious metrics. We need a bold vision equal to those existential threats. Jo Grady’s manifesto provides one.

Endorsement: James Wilsdon, University of Sheffield

Endorsement from Professor James Wilsdon, University of Sheffield

What impresses me most about Jo’s manifesto is the coherent diagnosis it offers of the acute challenges confronting further and higher education, and its holistic strategy for tackling them. As someone who has campaigned on the need for more responsible uses of metrics and rankings in our sector (as the former chair of the independent government review that led to The Metric Tide report), I was particularly pleased to see Jo’s commitment to addressing this issue. As we say in that review, metrics hold real power: they are constitutive of values, identities and livelihoods. But poorly-designed and crudely-imposed metrics are now a growing problem in our universities and across the UK education system as a whole. Anyone with the energy and clarity of vision to resist the tide of irresponsible metrics that swirls around us would win my vote. So I’m pleased to be supporting #Grady4GS.

James Wilsdon, Professor of Research Policy, University of Sheffield. Chair, Campaign for Social Science. Former Chair, Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management.

Endorsement: Eric Lybeck, University of Manchester

Endorsement from Dr Eric Lybeck, University of Manchester

Here is Eric’s endorsement video for the #Grady4GS campaign! Thank you for your support!

You can see it on Twitter or on YouTube (below). The transcript is at the bottom.


My name is Eric Lybeck, a historical sociologist of universities at Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester.

In my research into the institutional and political dynamics of Higher Education I’ve come to learn that the primary thing missing from our sector is a clear representative voice for our profession.

Undoubtedly unions provide the representational role for us as employees relative to our employers, but we also need to remember more often that We Are The University, and We Are The Union. Of the candidates running for General Secretary of UCU, in my view Jo Grady fully understands the experiences of what it’s like to be on the frontlines of teaching, research, and professional service. In her manifesto she outlines a commanding and systemic understanding of the problems plaguing our sector, and delivers strategic and attainable means for improving our conditions.

Working with Jo at USSbriefs, I’ve seen time and time again her activist spirit, her knowledge of industrial relations, brought to bear in a combination of theory and practice that would be invaluable to the union.

I’ve also seen her earn the respect of wonks, media both trade press and national press, politicians and civil servants, and a lot of the issues that we face in our sector is actually misunderstanding by the public, by even those of us in other parts of the university, whether we are casualised staff, whether we are scientists working on research grants, or professional services under strain. What we really need is a communicator who can take these complex issues and translate them into understandable communications and actionable plans. And I’m undoubtedly confident that Jo Grady is the candidate to make this happen in this very important moment at our Union’s history.

Endorsement: Pip Marshall, UCU Yorkshire and Humber Regional Prison Rep (NOVUS)

Endorsement from Ms Pip Marshall, UCU Yorkshire and Humber Regional Prison Rep (NOVUS)

I am an active member in union work in the Prison Education Sector. UCU is in desperate need of strong membership in these turbulent times. I believe that Jo Grady can provide this. Jo Grady has the academic credentials that means she has a deep understanding of trade union matters. Even though that is something people can learn, what they cannot learn is passion, empathy and the ability to lead. Jo has these things in abundance. Basically, Jo cares about all the membership within the Union. Jo wants to change things in the Union for the benefit of all members and this can be clearly seen in her manifesto.

With Jo Grady, I believe the Union can be truly unified and become a strong force for education. It is an opportunity to vote in someone who knows what it is like on the front line and understands the needs of members. Jo has always spoken with care and consistency throughout her campaign, and is also extremely practical and solution focused. All these things we need in order to grow the Union and fight the oncoming issues. For these reasons, I urge you to vote for Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary.

Endorsement: Alan Bradshaw, Royal Holloway, University of London

Endorsement from Professor Alan Bradshaw, Royal Holloway, University of London

I have known Jo Grady for years as a friend, colleague, and comrade. I have closely observed her union activity and have attended academic events she has organised and read her papers. I have discussed politics and strategy with her both formally and informally. She is strong, she is fearless, and she is committed. She knows how to organise and she knows how to win.

Our profession has changed so much these past few years and the pace of continuous change is exhausting. Last year’s strike bore witness to what UCU can be. We need a person who understands the new landscape of universities, trade unions, and politics. Jo Grady is that person. She knows how to electrify this trade union and when we win, it will be brilliant. I shall be voting for Jo Grady and I encourage you all to do the same.

Endorsement: Mark Berry, Royal Holloway, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Mark Berry, Royal Holloway, University of London

I am delighted to add my voice to those supporting Jo Grady’s candidature for General Secretary of the UCU. I have been following Jo on Twitter for quite a while now, since the most active period (so far) of our pensions dispute, when she proved an invaluable voice in explaining not only what was going on but what should be. I say ‘so far’ because, as we all knowor shouldthat dispute is far from over. Jo certainly knows that; I have every confidence in her determination to ensure that we all will.

‘Pensions’ is, of course, misleading in its narrowness of scope; this marked the first real moment of our fightback against neoliberalism in higher education. We began openly to discuss once again questions we should ask every day. What role can and should universities and education more generally play in shaping a more humane society?  What, indeed, is education, and what is it for? (Not: how should we measure something that cannot be measured?) What are solidarity and collegiality, and how can we further them? Such questions and others are, if anything, still more important in fighting the headlong turn towards casualisation. Many of us remember very well how colleagues on temporary contracts stood eager to defend our pensions; it is high time we did more to defend those less fortunate than ourselves.

From reading what Jo Grady has had to say over the past year or so, and from reading her manifesto, I am confident she will provide the voice we need on these and other issues, from tuition fees (wherever in the world students may come from) to the accountability recently so lacking in national union affairs. Most encouraging of all, Jo reminds us that ‘a manifesto is more than the sum of its parts’, that this is as much about engaging members, in building representation and solidarity, and in our leading rather than merely reacting to policy. There is no time to lose.