The general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) has announced that she is standing for re-election.
In a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Jo Grady confirmed she will stand again for the role. Nominations close on Thursday, November 9, at 5pm.
Grady, who was first elected to the job in May 2019, pledged to release her manifesto “in due course” for the role, which is advertised with an annual salary of between £111,723 and £125,745, plus £5,058 of London weighting.
“I will set out my vision for the next five years, and I will campaign on the basis of being the best candidate possible to lead our union,” she said.
But Grady warned that there are currently “far more important things for me to be doing than electioneering”.
UCU announced in October that staff at 30 colleges in England will strike for three consecutive days later this month unless their employers offer a significant pay rise.
The strike will run from Tuesday, November 14 to Thursday, November 16 – which is just after the GCSE resits series but during the Association of Colleges annual conference.
In her video, Grady said she “need[s] to be on picket lines with our further education members”, and that “our members need, and they deserve my full attention”.
But she also referred to a brewing conflict between the union and government after the UK’s national funding agency for science and technology research –UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – suspended its equality, diversity and inclusion advisory board earlier this week.
That was in response to a letter from secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Michelle Donelan, who said some members of the advisory board had “shared some extremist views on social media” following the attacks by Hamas on Israel on October 7.
The UCU said Donelan had “seriously misrepresent[ed] the views” expressed by the board members “in a transparently political attack”, and called on the UKRI to reinstate the advisory board.
“What is happening with the UKRI is the start of something very sinister,” Grady said in her video on X. The UCU threatened that it would call on its members to resign from any voluntary positions with the UKRI if it does not reinstate the advisory board, and carried through with that threat on Friday.
Academics have since resigned from the UKRI in protest.
Grady’s first term in office has not been without controversy. Earlier this year it was reported that Grady paid around £20,000 in damages and costs following a libel hearing over a row on social media with Fire Brigades Union activist Paul Embery.
No other candidates have openly announced they will run against Grady.
The general secretary will “lead UCU and ensure its strategic and operational aims and objectives are met; to maximise UCU’s potential within and outside the post-compulsory education sector nationally and internationally”, the job advert states. The term of office lasts five years.
As well as a general secretary, the union will be electing its vice president for further education, a trustee and members of the National Executive Committee.
Ballots for all roles will open on January 25 and will then close on March 1.