Joint Union Committee Letter to the new VC

Dear Professor Mossop,

As representatives for the trade unions UCU, UNISON and Unite at Sheffield Hallam we would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to your new role. Our staff work hard to deliver quality teaching, which benefits from our economy boosting research and exceptional support for students, resulting in an excellent student experience. The recent award of TEF Gold is a reflection of the dedication of all here at Sheffield Hallam.

You are no doubt aware that despite this, pay and conditions have steadily declined for those very same staff. We have seen a real-term drop in pay of approximately 30% since 2009. In previous restructures we have seen significant erosion of terms and conditions and recently, we have been asked to consider the removal of and the reduction of pay protection and the removal of additional redeployment support. We also feel the commitment to the elimination of casualisation and outsourcing needs to be reaffirmed in the current climate. Given all these factors we are sure you can see that there is no room for further cuts here, and that priority should be given to addressing this spiral of decline in order to retain and grow a body of staff that has made Sheffield Hallam an award winning institution.

You are inheriting a difficult budget position, brought about by the prioritisation of capital expenditure projects over investment in staff. We have grave concerns about the project for a London campus, how it contributes to that budget deficit and the risks it entails. We need assurances that this project will not further damage the University’s financial status and also that any staff employed on this project, and any future similar projects, will be employed under the same terms and conditions as those already working for Sheffield Hallam. There are further questions around how this move to London aligns with the University’s civic agenda, implicit in which is a need to recommit to this region (

Our partnership with the University is the key to a successful and thriving institution. We would like to take this opportunity to rebuild and strengthen this partnership. Among the proposals we have is for regular attendance by our new VC and University Executive Board members at our Joint Negotiating Committee meetings, facilitating a more expansive, direct dialogue between the unions as staff representatives and the leadership of Sheffield Hallam. This would form the basis of a more open and transparent approach from the University, with our deeper involvement from an earlier stage in major projects that the University is planning and the provision of full information, including budget forecasts, to allow us to understand and be involved in major decisions around staff costs and other issues that impact our members.

All of these proposals have one aim: to ensure that Sheffield Hallam builds on the work of its staff as a centre of excellence, that it values their contribution and that it listens to and incorporates in its planning the expertise our members bring from doing the work that makes this University an award winning institution and a key civic partner contributing to the Region.

We hope that you will join us at a special Joint Negotiating Committee meeting to discuss the points raised in our letter. We look forward to working with you.

Ben Abell, Branch Secretary, Sheffield Hallam UCU

Dan Bye, Branch Secretary, Sheffield Hallam UNISON

Stephen Magowan, Branch Secretary, Sheffield Hallam Unite


UNISON statement on Sheffield Hallam University’s financial position

Colleagues will be aware of the University’s worrying financial position.   Both Vice-Chancellor Chris Husbands and Chief Finance Officer Ryan Keyworth have spoken about this in recent weeks in the Transforming Lives staff digest and all-staff meetings, and there will likely have been local communications and discussions as well.

Failure to meet student recruitment targets for 2023/4 (both home undergraduate and international) has left the University significantly short of income against budget.  There are local factors, but Sheffield Hallam are not alone in experiencing difficulties; although the number of 18 year olds has increased, the number choosing to go to university has not increased as expected.   Meanwhile, the higher education sector has been under sustained Government attack for many years, and undergraduate tuition fees (our main source of income) have been frozen since 2017, against a recent background of relatively high inflation.   The system seems broken, but there is no sign of any serious political will to fix it.   Hostile Government rhetoric suggests they would not be bothered if some universities were forced to close – there was a time when this would have been politically disastrous.

Members want to know what the University is going to do about this.    There are plans to diversify income (online provision, the London project), but any financial benefits from that will not come to fruition in the short term.   System and processes are being reviewed to identify efficiencies, although again will these come in quickly enough, if we do it properly?  There are also plans which may be delayed or stopped, and other non-pay savings are being looked at.

More stringent vacancy and recruitment management has also been introduced – not, we are assured, a vacancy “freeze”, but definitely a wintry chill.    This will leave teams understaffed, and pile even more pressure on busy colleagues.  If you are experiencing stress due to an unmanageable workload, put your health first and raise the problem with your line manager.  If you need support, contact UNISON.

The apparent urgency of the problem created an expectation of further announcements of other measures to be taken.  But little else has been communicated, which is creating uncertainty.  Are things not as bad as we were led to believe, or so bad that decisions are being avoided?

The University must resist any temptation to think it can simply cut its way out of trouble in the short-term.  Redundancies, voluntary or otherwise, are not cost-free, and damage student-facing services as well as essential back-office operations as well as staff morale.  Large-scale restructures are time-consuming, expensive, and seldom achieve everything they set out to achieve.

UNISON members want Sheffield Hallam to be successful, and work hard to make it so.   While University leadership considers what to do, they should remember that Hallam’s staff are critical to its future.

Dan Bye

Branch Secretary

Branch Motions 2023

Motions voted on and passed at Branch Committee meetings:

Stop the War: in support of @The World At War – A Trade Union Issue’ Conference 

Donate to the STUC solidary fund

Donation for coaches to Rotherham

STUC climate action meeting 

CSC motion

Lift the ban  motion

Workers Summit model motion

AV equipment fund motion

Stop Planned Visa Fee Increases motion

Ceasefire in Gaza, in solidarity with Palestinians 

Visa Fee Increases: the impact on staff and students at SHU

On the 13th of July, the government proposed a range of hikes to visa fees and surcharges as a way to fund public sector pay rises. While everyone can agree that the public sector needs pay rises, the planned increases to migrant fees are a political choice to pit workers against each other.

The IPPR spelled out several progressive tax options available to the government to fund public sector pay rises without impacting inflation that do not involve robbing one group to pay another. Moreover, many migrants are public sector workers themselves, who should not have to pay higher visa fees to support their own pay increase.

On the 6th of September, SHU UNISON passed a motion ‘Stop Planned Visa Fee Increases’ which called upon Unison Higher Education to urge the government to abandon these plans to raise the fees. However, the situation is changing rapidly.

On the 15th of September, the House of Commons published a research briefing which explains that visas and related fees have risen significantly above inflation and above processing costs. Then, on the 18th of September, the Home Office officially announced 15-35% rises to visa fees, which will take effect on the 4th of October. They also announced a 66% rise to the Immigration Health Surcharge (a fee which migrants pay upfront for each year of their visa to fund the NHS in addition to their taxes), which is meant to take place later this year.

How this will affect students and staff at SHU

Firstly, any migrant staff or students will be directly affected by the cost of their visa renewals. Depending on their visa, this is likely to be an increase between £1,000 and £2,000 depending on the route. For example, a two-year graduate route which costs the Home Office £103 to administer, will go from £1,963 to £2,894; three-year skilled worker visas which cost the Home Office £151 will go from £2,591 to £3,932. These unexpected rises during a cost of living crisis will be felt by migrants and families, and are likely to force those with fast approaching visa renewals to make some hard decisions about their finances.

There are implications for university finances which have potential knock-on effects for all university staff and students, as International Student Fees are projected to make up 25% of HE provider total income. As fees become prohibitive to potential students, university budgets may need to tighten accordingly. Additionally, there has been a 19% increase in the cost to the university to sponsor international students and certificates of sponsorship for skilled workers have gone up by 20%, which will have a direct and immediate impact on university budgets and forecasts.

Even where the university does not pay these costs directly, there are concerns from the research and development sector that the fees will actually level down the UK and have a detrimental effect on the HE sector. Sheffield specifically is one of the cities which benefits the most from international students. According to HEPI, International students have boosted the UK economy by £41.9 billion, and have provided a net figure of £1,930 per resident in Sheffield Central alone in 2021/2022.

So, what can we do about it?

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee increase of 66% which makes up the bulk of a migrant’s visa cost has not yet been agreed by the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Write to your MP and urge them to lobby to have this voted down.

Additionally, the 10-year route to settlement disproportionately affects women and minorities. You can write to your MP to urge them to cap the routes to settlement at 5 years, to stop migrants from having to pay high fees on average every 2.5 years for ten years.

Sign this petition to stop the fee increases, and ask your network to do so as well. If it receives 100,000 signatures Parliament will have to debate it.

Hallam UNISON will be campaigning for this to be taken up by other branches and unions across higher education. If you want to know more or get involved, please get in contact with us.

Kayla Kemhadjian – Hallam UNISON member


Free Members Learning Courses

Please find below details of forthcoming courses for the beginning of October.  These courses are free to UNISON members to attend. 

How to be a good Trans Ally on 3 October at 10am – 12.45pm via Teams

CVs and Application Forms on 5 October at 6.30pm – 7.30pm via Teams

Confidence Building (bitesize) on 12 October at 1pm – 2pm via Teams 

Makaton: Baby and Young Children Signing on 13 October 10am – 11.30am via Zoom

For more details about the above courses and others please follow the link below:

In-Person courses – at our office in Leeds

Dyslexia Awareness on 10 October at 10am – 4pm

For further details about this course and how to apply, please click the link:

To book your place on the online courses please email the team at with your name, membership number (if you have to hand) and your email address.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Introducing…Environmental Officer

What is your role in the branch?

Hello, I’m Tom Kistell and I’m the Environmental Officer, also known as the Green Rep.  My role is to be the Committee member responsible for everything to do with environmental sustainability, hearing what people have to say about it, matching up members with training and networking opportunities, and leading on UNISON’s efforts locally to help Sheffield Hallam become a more sustainable organisation.


How and why did you become involved in UNISON?

I’ve been involved with the union for more than half my life by this point!  I first joined when I was still at school, while I was working in a sports centre run by my local council.  One of the longstanding UNISON stewards there spoke about the need for all workers to be trade union members, even “young pups”, and his words stuck with me.  I joined in each place where I worked after that and, by the time I came to Sheffield Hallam, I wanted to contribute more as an activist.  I’ve been a steward, a workplace contact, and now an officer here.

What issues do you feel trade unions should be focusing on?

Obviously, I’m going to say climate action because it’s a theme that relates to everything else.  I can’t say enough about that in a few words here, but I’m always happy to talk about it with anyone who’s interested.  Other headline issues for me are work intensification, staff wellbeing, real-terms pay cuts, issues faced by parents and carers, and the barriers that people from poorer backgrounds encounter at work.  We need to recruit more of our colleagues as members, too.  If there are UNISON members in every team, then we’re in a much better position to push for positive change in the University and beyond.


Last week, along with hundreds of other delegates from across the UK, I attended UNISON’s National Delegate Convention, the democratic decision making body at the heart of our union. Many important motions were discussed and I will provide a full report to members soon.Next month, our new National Executive Council meet to take forward the resolutions made at conference. Understanding the structure of our union can be daunting, even for those of us who have been activists for some time. If you want to read more about the democratic decison making bodies that run your union, see here: UNISON democracy and electionsBeing active in the union means involving ourselves in these democratic processes, and we are always looking for more stewards and officers. If you think you or a colleague might be suited to a particular role, please get in contact with the branch. Vacancies and contact details for current activists can be found here: Contacts

PAY 2023/24 UPDATE

HE PAY 2023-24

Following the imposition of the pay award for 2023/24, and the continued dispute over the previous year’s award, members might have received emails from UNISON National HQ and seen messages on social media regarding ballots for strike action at some HE UNISON branches. Our branch is not included in this ballot. As a committee we were disappointed not to be included in the list of HE branches being balloted, and we know, both from personal conversations and the responses to last years questionnaire, that many of our members will feel the same way. We know that this round of balloting is unlikely to be the last. We also know that the number of ballots, online and postal, can be confusing for many members. Alongside this there are communications from national, regional and branch levels of the union which can overwhelm many. We are exploring ways to differentiate our local messaging from the national and regional, as suggested by members at our AGM, and hopefully provide a clearer, more focused line of communications for members.


The last 12 months or so have presented new challenges for the Students Union (SU). A move away from the NJC last year (which had previously formed the basis for pay increases) coupled with the pressures of a rising cost of living has meant that UNISON have been more involved than ever in negotiating fair pay increases for staff – but there’s still a long way to go. With pay negotiations for the 22/23 financial year finally being agreed in February of this year, negotiations around an increase for 23/24 are ongoing. As part of this period of change, SU UNISON reps Maddie and John, along with branch secretary Dan Bye now have monthly meetings with the Executive Team. Alongside this, a recent survey of our members within the SU has provided us with great insight into where we should focus our efforts, ensuring that members’ voices are heard.We have seen great progress in many areas, with staff on temporary contracts being offered permanent contracts, cleaning staff being offered real living wage, a review of staff salary and pay grades. Along with the executive team, we are now looking into the possible implementation of a 4 day working week in the Students’ Union, which would be a radical and positive change to our ways of working.  As a Students’ Union, staff salary is tied closely with a block grant administered by the university, so if you want to help our fellow members at the SU, the best thing you can do is make sure you find out more about our services, and shout about our successes where you can. One of the biggest challenges the SU faces is visibility within the university, and every little helps!


There are a couple of upcoming opportunities to become more involved in climate action at work, something we know from our end of year survey many members are concerned about.The first of these is Sheffield Hallam’s Climate Champion Network. As part of our branches drive to organise around environmental issues we are encouraging members to step forward for these Climate Champion roles. While we, along with many members we have spoken to, have reservations about these roles (the additional pressure they put on members, the effectiveness of action mediated through the University’s own structures, and so on) we believe that critical engagement with the network will allow us to effectively identify key areas for action. Through the understanding we gain from our members engagement we will be able to uncover the organisational problems that are the key obstacles to effective climate action. UNISON will provide support for members stepping up to jon the network through our own climate organsing group. Please contact our Environment Officer Tom Kistell (Contacts) if you are plan on, or already are, volunteering as a Climate Champion. You can find the form to express your interest in this role and to attend a preliminary meeting of the network this Wednesday (21st) on the staff intranet: Climate Champions eventThe second opportunity is an invitation to meet and organise around climate action with trade unionists from across South Yorkshire. Organised by Sheffield Trades Council ‘Buildling a Workforce for the Climate Emergency: Putting workers first in the fight against climate change’ will take place on Saturday 15th July, 10am-4pm at the Quaker Meeting House, 10 Saint James St, Sheffield, S1 2EW and will consist of a series of workshops to discuss how we get climate jobs in:

  • renewable energy
  • transport
  • education and training – skilling up a workforce for the climate emergency

We encourage all members to join us to discuss what climate change really means for workers and how rising energy prices, inflation, falling wages and the climate crisis are not only connected but being driven by the same system.The event is free, please book your place here: STUC Climate WorkshopsSTUC Climate Jobs








Finally, Shell’s boss recently took home a £9.7million pay packet – while public service workers have to take industrial action to secure fair pay. It doesn’t have to be this way: windfall taxes in other countries have raised far more for the public purse, and kept bills far lower.Sign UNISON’s petition now and tell the Chancellor to make oil and gas giants – not ordinary households – pay the priceWindfall tax petition