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26th February 2021

Will Nancy be voted out? The referendum explained

No confidence in Nancy: an explanation of next month’s historic vote of no confidence in University senior management
Will Nancy be voted out? The referendum explained
Photo: The Mancunion

A vote of no confidence in the University of Manchester’s Vice Chancellor, Dame Nancy Rothwell, and Senior Management Team, will be held online this semester, following its proposal by a student petition which secured 400 signatures. 

It is the first vote of its kind to be carried out in the University’s history.

When is the vote? 

The vote will be held from the 8th to 11th March 2021. It will be conducted online in a similar format to the Students’ Union elections, and all students will receive an email with more detailed instructions closer to the time.

Who does the vote involve? 

All students at the University will get a vote. The University and College Union (UCU) hold their own votes involving staff at UoM, so they will not get a vote in this referendum.  

Voting ‘Yes’ in this referendum means that you have no confidence in the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dame Nancy Rothwell, and her management, to run the University. Key figures in the Senior Management Team include: 

  • Deputy President and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Luke Georghiou
  • Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, Patrick Hackett
  • Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students, April McMahon 
  • Director for the Student Experience, Simon Merrywest

You will be able to vote ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Abstain’.

Why is there a vote? 

A number of student groups, including UoM Rent Strike and 9K4WHAT, launched a successful petition for a vote of no confidence last semester.

This followed events on campus which students say highlighted various problems in the University management, including a failure to respond to its mental health crisis and institutionalised racism. Many students feel “let down” by the Senior Leadership Team, particularly in its handling of the pandemic. 

The Nancy Out! campaign is proposing that key leadership positions be democratically elected by students and staff. They also demand that the Board of Governors be more representative of the UoM community.

What happens after the vote? 

The result will be announced on 12th March 2021. However, this does not commit Nancy Rothwell and her management to leaving, as the result is not binding for the University.

Following the vote, the Students’ Union will present the result to the University and the entire student body. This could be instrumental in increasing pressure on the University Board of Governors, who ultimately decide the fate of the University’s management.

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester told The Mancunion: “The pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption for students, and they have not been able to have the university experience they would have expected.

They continued: “We have all worked very hard to provide all our students with the best possible learning and student experience in these unprecedented and challenging circumstances. We have not got everything right, but we are committed to working closely with student representatives to address concerns and meet student needs.”

How can I get involved? 

The official group campaigning for a vote of no confidence in the Senior Leadership Team is Nancy Out!. Their website provides information on how to get involved and their motivations for holding a referendum. 

There is no official campaign in favour of Nancy Rothwell and her management to stay. All campaigns have to be run by students. If you are interested in supporting a campaign on either side of the referendum, you can contact [email protected].

You can also read articles in The Mancunion by students campaigning for a Yes and No result.

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