A petition of support for a vote of no confidence in Vice-Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell gained over 400 signatures in 5 hours, earlier this week, meaning a University-wide referendum on whether Rothwell should remain Vice-Chancellor will be held.
The campaign was set up by a coalition of student action groups including Students Before Profit, 9K4WHAT and UoM Rent Strike, with the hopes of pressuring the University of Manchester to replace Nancy Rothwell and various other senior members of staff.
In addition to the Vice-Chancellor, the campaign is aimed at:
- Patrick Hackett – Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer
- Simon Merrywest – Director for Student Experience
- April McMahon – Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students
- Luke Georghiou – Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Ben McGowan, a first-year student and Rent Strike organiser spoke to The Mancunion about why the vote of no confidence in senior members of staff has been proposed.
“Nancy Rothwell and her management have done nothing but tarnish the University’s reputation and more importantly repeatedly disregarded the welfare of both students and staff alike.
Nancy and senior management have shown their positions to be untenable and for the sake of the university we’re calling on them to resign.
We appreciate this won’t solve the systematic problems at the University overnight, but the situation has so severely deteriorated at the university that immediate action such as this must be taken.”
When approached for comment, a University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The President and Vice-Chancellor’s position is a matter for our Board of Governors.”
A representative of the Students’ Union told The Mancunion that they are in contact with the students who have created the petition and are working on the next phase of the process:
“We are currently verifying the signatures to ensure that they meet the criteria as set out in the Students’ Union bye-laws. Once we’ve completed that work, we’ll get back in touch with those students to let them know what the next steps will be.”
The referendum will be held in Semester 2, once the petition has been fully verified by the Students’ Union, and will be open to all University of Manchester Students.
It is clear that the turbulence of Semester 1 will continue into the New Year, as student activists show no sign of calming down. More protests on campus are planned, and hundreds have already signed up to the January Rent Strike.
It is unclear whether the University Board of Governors would be compelled to take action following the result of a referendum, meaning it remains to be seen whether Nancy Rothwell will continue as Vice-Chancellor if a vote of no confidence is reached.
Regardless of the result, the Vice-Chancellor and SLT are certainly under a lot of pressure from the student body – and national media – to institute some serious changes.