Ben HaywardFebruary 8th
2021

University of Manchester (UoM) students are to take part in a ‘vote of no confidence’ in Vice Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell and other senior in an ‘unprecedented’ move. 

Described as an ‘historic and unprecedented step’ the vote will take place in March and will be the first of its kind in the nearly 200 year history of the prestigious university.  

Campaigners had previously argued that, following ‘repeated failures and broken promises’ throughout the pandemic, a vote of no confidence in the Vice Chancellor and her team would send a ‘resounding message’ and ‘make it abundantly clear that their positions are completely untenable’, reports The Manc.

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A statement on the Manchester Students’ Union website reads: “Last semester your Students’ Union received a petition and signatures for a proposed all-student referendum. 

“This is a mechanism available to any student under our rules. We can confirm that it met the threshold number of signatures to trigger the referendum and as your Students’ Union, we will be facilitating that on behalf of our membership.

“The referendum is on whether you agree with the following statement: This student body has no confidence in Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell and other University leaders.”

Voting is due to take place from March 8-11, with results published on March 12th.

The move comes after a fractious few months between students and the university, with criticism levelled over the institution’s handling of a number of key issues including isolation requirements and sub-standard accommodation.

In November, students at the Fallowfield campus hit headlines after they pulled down security fences that had been put up around their halls without warning, while protestors also occupied the empty Owens Park tower to demand rent refunds - eventually securing a 30% discount.

The Vice Chancellor also had to issue an apology after an alleged ‘racial profiling’ incident saw a student was pinned up against a wall by security staff after reportedly being accused of 'looking like a drug dealer’.

Although a £50 million support fund to assist students in England suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic was announced last week, the University and College Union (UCU) has described the measure as a ‘sticking plaster’.

UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said: “Small-scale funding packages like this are simply a sticking plaster and not the answer to the widespread problems facing the sector. The Government needs to go further and provide proper funding to avoid irreparable long-term damage to the sector’s reputation.”

The Manc has contacted the University of Manchester for comment.

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