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31 January 2018

Fat cat vice chancellors schooled by Brum students

Sam Witts, Birmingham Socialist Students

Students at the University of Birmingham lambasted their fat cat vice chancellor (VC) David Eastwood during his 'Question Time' event on 25 January. The room was filled with students rightfully angered by Eastwood's role at the university.

Since Dame Breakwell was shamed into resignation at the University of Bath, Eastwood is now the highest paid VC in the country with an eye-watering salary of 436,000 - almost double the average pay for VC's nationally, that comes with a university-funded mansion and chauffeur-driven Jaguar.

During his time, Eastwood has made it his personal mission to attack workers' wages, pensions and conditions. Its regime has placed over 70% of teaching staff on casualised zero-hour contracts, and has cut the pay of many support staff by up to 1,800 because he refuses to keep their wages at least in line with inflation, let alone offer the living wage universally.

Not only this, Eastwood also receives 90,000 a year for chairing the universities pension scheme and has attacked the pensions of university staff nationally, which forced UCU lecturer's union to ballot successfully for strike action.

It is no wonder then that students are rightfully disgraced by their VC and bombarded him with criticism. Eastwood was left squirming in a tirade of criticism on an assortment of issues. This included a call from Socialist Students for his resignation after we exposed conflicts with his business interests.

Socialist Students and the campus trade unions have conducted several demonstrations on these matters and distributed material before the event detailing some of the VC's worst offences.

Despite attempts from university security to prevent our completely legitimate and legal activity, almost every student in the room had a copy which ensured there was no let-off for Eastwood.