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Queen Mary Students’ Union passes no confidence vote against university principal following year of tensions

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 June 2020

Queen Mary University of London Students Union. Picture: QMSU

Queen Mary University of London Students Union. Picture: QMSU

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Queen Mary Students’ Union (QMSU) has passed a motion of no confidence in university principal Colin Bailey, with an ongoing furlough dispute proving the catalyst for a complete breakdown in relationship.

The unprecedented move — QMSU had never before passed such a motion against a university leader — came following an emergency virtual meeting held last night (May 28) by student council members.

Though symbolic in nature, the no-confidence motion — which expressed concerns on many issues beyond the furlough dispute — is evidence of a relationship at its lowest ebb.

Two motions were advanced at the meeting: 1) Supporting QMSU’s student staff — #QMFurloughNow and; 2) Should QMSU express no-confidence in QMUL’s principal and president, professor Colin Bailey?

The first motion refers to QMSU’s desire for continued support in its fight for furlough, a situation which has left affected students in severe financial difficulty.

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Despite loud protests, QMSU is yet to receive the consent required from QMUL to furlough those students, contributing to the tensions which ultimately informed the second motion of no-confidence.

QMSU commercial services officer Joe Vinson led the meeting as deputy student council chairman, and explains that the group wrote to Mr Bailey following the passage of the motion, “urging him to reset the relationship”.

The text of the second motion read: “For the past academic year professor Colin Bailey has spoken about co-creation between QMSU and QMUL, but consistently failed to deliver it.”

It proceeds to mention a list of contentious issues, including concerns regarding institutional racism, the declaration of a climate change emergency and issues over the support provided to lecturers during the university and college union (UCU) strikes.

The group claims it has been “side-lined, shut down and silenced” at every attempt to engage with Mr Bailey.

In the meeting student council members expressed their grievances, following which all 27 votes were cast in favour of declaring no-confidence in the university principal.

When asked for comment, a spokesman for QMUL said: “The principal’s focus remains on ensuring that the university complies fully with all legal and financial requirements, and providing an excellent inclusive education and research environment”.


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