Angry Students Start Online Petition Calling For a Motion of No Confidence Against the Vice Chancellor Following Announcement of 200 Job Losses at University of Bradford

    By Grahame Anderson

    Senior Management at the University of Bradford are undertaking informal face to face discussions following the announcement 200 full time staff are to be made redundant by December.

    These devastating job cuts will affect administrative, professional and support staff, and will also include senior executives, with management blaming both a change in funding from Westminster and dwindling undergraduate applications.

    The University claims there are no academics involved contrary to what internal sources believe, but the plan represents losing 10 per cent of employees at the university, at a time when student numbers have dropped below 10,000. A total of 35 departures have already been agreed leaving a further 165 losses to come over the next few months.

    A spokesperson for the university told Asian Sunday: “These sessions are open to all staff members with Q&A’s forming part of the agenda. There will also be a formal consultation process in which feedback from staff will help shape the proposed changes to the University.”

    Vice Chancellor, Professor Brian Cantor

    Internal Concerns

    Asian Sunday has learned the proposals released to staff in an email were the catalyst for a collective letter to Top-Tier Management, written by the University's Sabbatical Team. They believe both panic management and a changing strategy were behind the decision.

    In an extract they say: “The University recruitment strategy constantly changes. Recently in Senate we were told that the focus will be on increasing our international student market, yet we still continue to ignore the local market which has been the backbone for the University of Bradford for the last ten years. The new sabbatical team would be unable to attend this University under the current tariff requirement if they were applying today. We do not understand how the University ignore this market in the pursuit of quality, when we would urge increasing quality in the management decision-making and strategic thinking.

    “The Students’ Union wants to be the University’s critical friend and partner, but we are finding this position difficult when we find out about major change through the media. We feel there is not enough consideration given to the student impact from such major decisions which have been made through programmes such as BEP.”

    Other concerns include an upsurge in the number of students reporting basic administrative errors, a retention problem, lack of student surveys and a change in the approach of university governance sessions.

    In a collective statement the group told us: “The letter speaks for itself, as it is open and honest. That is all we are prepared to say at this point as we are still waiting for an official response from the University's Senior Management Team."

    Funding Sources A Problem

    Vice Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor explained: “Student applicant numbers have declined and will continue to do so for the next few years. We have seen the removal of funding sources such as bursaries for nursing, and the government has removed inflation increases to the home student fee.

    “All of this has contributed to a much tougher operating and recruitment environment.”

    University Statement

    In a statement presented to Asian Sunday by the University, they say they have improved their academic and professional support quality substantially over the past few years. They will also continue to invest in academic developments and facilitate a major drive toward international recruitment.

    They added: “The planned cost reductions will involve reducing the staff complement by approximately 200 FTE roles. The University is running a voluntary severance scheme and is also carrying a number of vacancies, which will account for some of this necessary reduction. Unfortunately, however, we still need to reduce our staff by around 165 FTE roles. Where possible we will endeavour to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies.

    “We need to simplify and reshape our academic model and explore other opportunities that may enhance our teaching and research, generate income and increase efficiencies. Our aim is that by 2020/21 the University will have more overseas students, have a different, stronger and more effective academic shape and model, be leaner and have a well worked through offer as an organisation, with a smaller top management tier.

    “We recognise that this period will be challenging for all concerned, but full support will be provided for all staff and students through this time of change.”

    Local MP's Response

    Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said: “These potential job losses are a devastating blow for hard working staff. I am also very concerned about the impact this could have on the education of thousands of young people in Bradford and beyond.

    “I have already met with the trade union Unison and will be making my views about this serious issue very clear to the Vice-Chancellor of the University.”

    Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies added: “I’m not entirely sure why they are blaming the government, if there’s one thing universities aren’t strapped for its cash.

    “Obviously it’s a concern for the people affected and I hope every effort will be made to help them get a new job quickly, it will be a massive worry for them and that should be the priority.”

    MP Naz Shah, whose constituency the University falls under was approached for comment but did not respond. MP for Bradford East Imran Hussain was also approached for comment but did not respond.

    Online Petition

    Since starting to cover this story Asian Sunday has learned students at the university have launched an online petition calling for a motion of no confidence against the Vice Chancellor, Professor Brian Cantor. In a statement released on Saturday the UBU made it known:

    “Being a student at the University, under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, we have witnessed the declining standards of education and the overall student experience. As a part of the student body, we feel that this is a direct result of the “vision” and “strategy” pushed out by the Vice Chancellor. The University does not engage with the local community to tackle the real issues, resulting in students feeling unsafe, vulnerable and like outsiders.”

     

     

     

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    IOPC release update on four men who died in Bingley Road car crash

    Four men died in a car crash  the during the early hours of Thursday morning following a police chase.

    While the men are believed to have been identified on social media, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) do not want to officially name the men at this moment in time.

    In a statement IOPC have said:

    "Our investigation following a police pursuit in Bradford, in which four men died, is continuing to gather vital evidence.

    At around 5.30am this morning (2 August 2018) a grey BMW 1 Series crashed on Toller Lane. We understand that, prior to the incident, an unmarked West Yorkshire Police car began a pursuit of the BMW as it was being driven at speed. A short time later the car collided with a tree and all four men died at the scene.

    Two of the men have been formally identified. The other two men who died have not yet been formally identified. We have made the decision not to name the men at this time, until all their identifications have been confirmed and we are confident their next of kin have been informed.

    Our investigators attended the post incident procedures and will attend the post mortems of the four men when these take place. Statements from the officers involved, who are all being treated as witnesses, have been taken.

    We have overseen the removal of the police vehicle involved, and the BMW, and these will now be forensically examined for use in our independent investigation. We have established that there is dashcam footage from the police vehicle, which will be analysed in due course. We are also in the process of gathering local CCTV footage and will be conducting house to house enquiries over the coming days.

    Anyone who witnessed, or recorded, the incident is asked to contact us on 0800 096 9079 or email tollerlanebradford@policeconduct.gov.uk

    IOPC Regional Director Miranda Biddle: “This was a horrific incident, resulting in the deaths of four men, and our thoughts remain with their loved ones and all those affected.

    “Our investigators responded quickly following the referral from West Yorkshire Police, and were at the scene shortly after the crash – this is vital to ensure we establish key evidence at an early stage.

    “I would like to take this opportunity to invite anyone with information about the crash to come forward.”

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    Everything parents need to know on what the law says on school uniform rules when temperatures are rising

    by MEHREEN KHAN

    Here in the UK we are currently undergoing a heat wave, which we don’t often get to experience! However, while many of us are enjoying the sunshine in our summer clothes and being able to change whenever we want, some school children who don’t finish for the six-week holidays until late July are not allowed to wear cooler clothes and must stick to school uniform rules. For instance, a schoolboy from Wales was sent home for wearing shorts and later returned wearing a skirt, and a child from Leek was put into isolation for wearing shorts.

    Naturally, this has angered many parents across the country who believe their children should be allowed to wear cooler clothes during periods of hot weather. Hannah Parsons, Principle Associate Solicitor at DAS Law told Asian Sunday what the law says on this matter.

    Obviously, schools are totally entitled to have rules which require pupils to wear a school uniform.  This is the case across the entire country. The school therefore, has the right to then discipline pupils for not complying with the school uniform rules. However, they are expected to consider a reasonable request to vary the uniform policy, and must take care to ensure that any policy does not lead to discrimination.

    The Department of Education guidance strongly encourages schools to have a uniform. However, it also recommends that governing bodies should take into consideration the views of parents and pupils when making decisions. This is useful to know when we are faced with a heat wave, as children can often become uncomfortable, lethargic and restless staying in their usual school uniforms throughout the duration of the school day.

    So, can the school really send children home for not sticking to strict uniform rules?

    Hannah tells us that where there is a breach of the school uniform policy, either a Head Teacher or someone authorised, can suggest that a pupil goes home. The school is expected to consider carefully whether this would be appropriate though, as they must consider the child’s age, vulnerability, and the time and ease it will take the pupil, also keeping in mind the availability of the child’s parents. School uniform breaches are usually considered minor disciplinary matters; however, in some cases of repeated and persistent failures, exclusion may be necessary.

    So what rights do parents have who want to appeal a school’s decision on school uniform?

    Hannah says that whenever a school uniform policy is in place, a school is expected to consider reasonable requests to vary the policy and in particular when the request is made to meet the needs of individual pupils to accommodate their religion, ethnicity, disability or other special consideration. Hannah further advises that disputes about school uniform should be resolved locally and in accordance with the school’s complaints policy.  School governing bodies must have a complaints procedure to deal with issues about school uniform.

    Often school procedures for dealing with complaints provide for the complaint to be addressed to firstly, the member of staff responsible, then the Head of department and then Head teacher.  The next step would be to put the complaint in writing to the chair of governors.  Once the internal complaints and appeal process has been exhausted, the Department of Education can deal with complaints about schools.

    Hannah also advises that it’s not just school uniforms where rules have to be followed, but this can also be the case with appearance, where schools may also have rules. So, there could be legal implications on when a child has changed their appearance during school holidays such as a new hairstyle. Hannah advises that provided the rules are reasonable and don’t infringe equality legislation or suggest discrimination, the school is entitled to enforce the rules in accordance with its disciplinary policy.

    Where pupils change their appearance in the school holidays, both they and their parents need to be aware that on returning to school they will be expected to adhere to the school’s appearance policy.

    Other appearance issues such as new ear piercings, where a child can’t remove the earrings for 4-6 weeks can also impact on the school rules, especially if the child can’t remove their earrings for PE.

    Rules for the removal of jewellery during PE are quite common in school and are likely to be considered reasonable, as it is only set for health and safety purposes in case of injury.

    Many schools set out a specific policy for dealing with the situation where recently pierced earrings cannot be removed for PE lessons and therefore make way for children to be given another associated task. The school’s policy will often draw attention to the requirement regarding earrings, suggesting that any ear piercing takes into account the school policy.

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    Jet Airways launches North of England's first direct flights to India's financial capital Mumbai from Manchester

    The North of England’s first ever direct flights to India’s financial capital Mumbai will begin in November.

    Indian airline Jet Airways announced it will operate a four flights per week service from Manchester, with a flight time of approximately 10 hours 35 minutes.

    Not only does it mark the first non-stop route from Manchester to Mumbai, but it's also Jet Airways' first direct service between the UK and India.

    International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the new route will “strengthen connections between two major global cities and the wider Northern Powerhouse”.

    More than half a million people of Indian origin live in northern England, while over 100 Indian companies have bases across the region.

    The flights follow the launch of the Manchester-India Partnership created earlier this year to boost links.

    Manchester Airport chief executive Andrew Cowan said: Securing a direct service to one of India’s major cities is the product of a lot of hard work over a long period of time to forge closer ties between Manchester and this globally significant economy.

    “We have worked, along with a range of partners, to create a compelling case for why our city – and the wider North – is a great place to visit, invest in and do business with. I am delighted Jet Airways have recognised this by launching what I’m sure will be a hugely popular service, not least for the 500,000 people of Indian origin living across the North.

    “Direct connectivity to the world’s most important markets is key to creating a prosperous and internationally competitive Northern economy, and a balanced and outward facing UK. This route will deliver a major boost to businesses looking to export to the world’s fastest-growing economy, as well as helping to attract Indian visitors and investors to the North. We look forward to working with Jet Airways on launching the Mumbai service in the months ahead.”

    Jet Airways will initially fly from Manchester to Mumbai on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday using an A330-200 aircraft with 254 seats.

    Return journeys start from £400 in economy, and although the new route doesn't take off until 5 November 2018, those thinking of flying can already book seats by visiting the Jet Airways website.

    Furthermore, the flight also provides a connection to nearly 35 hotspots including the likes of Kolkata, Delhi, Goa and Jaipur to name a few.

    Similarly, quick connections to beyond points on Jet Airways’ international network such as Bangkok, Colombo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dhaka and Kathmandu, will now be available.

    Vinay Dube, Chief Executive Officer, Jet Airways said: "We are extremely pleased to begin a new chapter in our decade-long relationship with the United Kingdom.

    "The new service will bring Manchester into our global network, reinforcing our global footprint, as well as expanding the choice of connectivity to and from the United Kingdom for our guests with the four days a week, non-stop service.

    "With the new flight, Jet Airways will have over 8,000 seats on offer every week, making it increasingly convenient for both business and leisure travellers to travel between the UK and India. This will deepen both commerce and tourism ties between the two countries".

     

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    Britain’s South Asian community remain high at risk from Mental Health. Does stigma make it harder to combat it?

    By GRAHAME ANDERSON

    At some point in life one in four people will experience mental health problems through a range of causes including stigma and discrimination. People of any status can be affected, but with Asian communities in mind taboos can be far reaching. In the past, such problems weren't addressed or talked about openly. Sufferers would be shunned, families excluded, and any issues would be a source of shame for those involved. These problems have yet to be solved, but more and more mental health professionals and groups are now working closely with Asian communities to help solve any communication problems.

    Role Model Help

    England cricketer Monty Panesar and role model to many Asian youngsters has himself been subject to mental health issues in the past. His highlighting of shame and labeling toward those suffering from mental health problems has won high praise.

    Now a mental health ambassador for the Professional Cricketers' Association, he said: "The cricketing world was very supportive and understanding, but in our Asian community there was no understanding of what mental health is.

    "When you play cricket, you want to be perceived as strong, resilient, able to be competitive. A lot of young Asians came forward after I went public and said, 'we're glad you opened up because it's a huge taboo in our community.”

    As one of the few Asian celebrities to speak out he's already helped to break down mental health barriers, following his experience of both paranoia and anxiety.

    Sharing Voices Together

    Asian Sunday spoke to Bradford charity Sharing Voices whose support for BAME communities and mental health, is making a huge difference to how they perceive mental issues. They told us: “The stigma still exists within South Asian communities. As a charity we feel small steps have been taken, and we have seen an increase in referrals. But this is still like a needle in a haystack, and many Asians are still suffering in silence, due to the shame.

    “One in five mental health inpatients comes from a BME background, compared with about one in 10 of the population as a whole. When services treat people from BME backgrounds, it's important a holistic approach and positive definitions of mental health are used, and that there is recognition of alternative perspectives and understanding.

    “The info is getting to most, but then it is up to the individual to act upon it, eg 'Yes I need help'. “I have tried committing suicide.”

    Another mental health expert said: “Some mental health problems go unreported and untreated because people in some ethnic minority groups are reluctant to engage with mainstream health services. It's also likely mental health problems are over-diagnosed in people whose first language is not English.”

    BAME Groups Remain High Risk

    The Mental Health Foundation told us: “BAME groups are still generally considered to be at higher risk of developing mental ill health. A 2015 review looked at the association between ethnicity, mental health problems and socio-economic status. It was discovered people from black ethnic minority backgrounds have a higher prevalence of psychosis, compared with the white majority population.”

    The 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) revealed common mental health problems vary significantly by ethnic group for women, but not for men. Research has also shown high rates of suicide among young South-Asian women within the UK. As organisers of Mental Health Awareness Week, they focus on a major issue each year. The group's main theme for 2018 is 'Stress – Are We Coping?

    It's also true to say mainstream mental health services are working hard to provide both acceptable and accessible services to meet the needs of non-white British communities.

    Getting Communities To talk

    Oxford University graduate Shuranjeet Singh Takhar has experienced mental health issues during his studies as he explains:

    “Having gone through difficulties myself during my time at university, I was hugely helped by my house-mates who provided a formidable support structure to help me through tough times.

    “I recall a conversation I had at the gurdwara (Sikh spiritual centre) with a middle-aged Sikh man. I spoke about the increasing mental health issues in the local community. He dismissed my claims mental health was even an issue, asserting it was something of ‘my generation’. Seeing his rejection and blindness to a very real issue concerned me.

    “I started TarakĪ, a movement designed to fundamentally change how the Punjabi community understand, approach, and treat mental health difficulties and those suffering from them. TarakĪ means being forward-facing, progressive, and looking to a better future. We believe by working alongside local and national mental health initiatives, volunteers, and groups, we can make this change happen. TarakĪ wants to bring forward discussion about mental health to break down the negative stereotypes and assumptions associated with it. From this, we can begin to tackle mental health difficulties more effectively within the community.

    “Moving forward, it's imperative the Punjabi community work together to instigate real change in how mental health is understood and treated, much to the benefit of individuals, families, and friends.”

    Positive BBC Vision

    With more than 1million viewers each day Midlands based daytime drama BBC Doctors is well placed to play a major role in cutting back mental health taboos. In line with Mental Health Awareness Week they put together six hard hitting episodes designed to help raise awareness and encourage viewers to reach out for support and advice.

    Story Producer Nasreen Ahmed says “We certainly aren’t intending to conquer all the myths and concerns around mental health by the end of our week but if we can use our regular characters and our ‘world’ to help viewers understand a little better and reach out for any support that is out there and needed – then we will have achieved what we set out to do.”

    Food for Thought

    Such prominent media coverage will do much to get people talking in their communities. Mental Health Awareness Week is set to educate people much more on problems that can be overcome with good communication, understanding and professional help. It seems there's still a long road to travel, but mental health within the Asian community is beginning to be spoken about more freely.

    Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 is between 14 – 20 May. For more information visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk or contact www.sharingvoices.net

     

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