Departing University of London Vice Chancellor blasts “ill-informed” students in leaked email

Interim University of London (UoL) vice-chancellor Professor Peter Kopelman, who left office last Sunday, slammed protests over outsourcing at Senate House in an internal email to staff, leaked last week.

Kopelman wrote he was “profoundly disappointed by the continuing protests of a small number of ill informed [sic] students, and the boycott which is jeopardising the academic activities of SAS [School of Advanced Studies].”

He defended his “staged” approach to reviewing outsourcing contracts. He said: “The protests, boycott and intimidation (evidenced by the contents of my mailbox during the past 12 months) ignore the loyalty and commitment shown by the University community”

The email was posted on Twitter by Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee. He added that the outgoing vice-chancellor “couldn’t resist a final pop at the outsourced workers, their @IWGBunion, & supporters.”

UoL IWGB branch members, mostly comprised of outsourced cleaners, security guards and receptionists, have long campaigned for direct employment.


UoL asserted the message’s authenticity. In a statement to London Student, a university spokesperson said:  

“Professor Kopelman, along with many staff, was concerned to read many errors and misinformation on social media that were released by the protesters during the recent spate of protests and the occupation last month.”

“Some staff have been intimidated when gaining access to Senate House and distressed about the actions of some protestors.”

UoL implemented extra security measures last Friday, anticipating a protest, and during June’s occupation of the Chancellor’s Hall.

The boycott at Senate House is organised by the IWGB to supports workers’ demands. Recently, the University and Colleges Union added its support to the campaign.

The University of London Justice for Workers campaign, said in an earlier statement:

“We applaud Prof Peter Kopelman in stepping down from what has been a truly disastrous year as Vice-Chancellor.”

They reminded Kopelman that the UoL boycott was “called for by the workers themselves.” During his tenure, they claimed, only ten percent of Senate House workers were brought in-house by UoL.

On 1 July, Kopelman handed over his position to Professor Wendy Thomson. Her appointment as new vice-chancellor was announced by UoL last October.

Photo credit: David Dahlborn

Opinion Editor. Cambridge History PhD student.

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