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At Academic Board on 23 October, the new Provost Michael Arthur formally withdrew UCL senior management’s proposals to reform Statute 18, which would have weakened UCL’s protections for academic freedom and against cuts by removing checks and barriers on university managers enacting staff redundancies and dismissals. We welcome this move, which comes after a concerted campaign of students and staff working through UCLU and the UCU trade union in united opposition to the proposals. We would like to congratulate and thank all those involved in the campaign – your collective efforts were invaluable. We would also like to thank the new Provost for expressing his willingness to discuss the alternative proposals that staff and students have put forward, which aim to strengthen and extend protections. We hope that these discussions will be productive and UCL can move forward with a broader and firmer commitment to protecting academic freedom and plurality.

The previous Provost, Malcolm Grant, suggested that this was a staff matter, of no concern to students. We disagreed completely ​then, and we still do. As students we want to be part of a university which is a thriving, democratic intellectual environment – not one where staff base research and teaching directions on their fears for their own jobs rather than the pursuit of knowledge, or where managers can cut out departments or areas of enquiry just because they are less financially lucrative or score lower in the government’s warped assessments of the supposed value of research.

This campaign has also been a victory for democracy at UCL. By standing up together for our common interest and for values reflecting the kind of university we want to be, staff and students on the Academic Board were able to block the top-down imposition of senior managers’ plans and even drive forward a positive alternative. We hope to continue in this spirit, and work ultimately towards a UCL where the community of students and education workers is in charge.