From education to employment

University of Leeds widening participation officer wins national union presidency

A widening participation officer from the University of Leeds has been elected national president of the University and College Union (UCU). Vicky Blake will serve as vice-president for two years before becoming national president of the union in May 2021.

Vicky is the president of the UCU branch at the University of Leeds and has been a key campaigner in the fight against casualisation and the drive to secure better contracts for university staff. She was one of the leading lights in last year’s strikes against plans to slash pensions for university staff.

Vicky has been working in higher education since 2004 and has held a range of academic and academic related jobs at Durham University and the University of Leeds. She spent over a decade  without a secure contract and says UCU was a lifeline during that time. She says fighting casualisation will be at the heart of her work as vice-president and president.

Outside work and union organising, Vicky is a keen runner and walker and loves live music. She is active in her local community, organising events in Leeds as a member of the We Shall Overcome solidarity movement. 

Vicky Blake said: ‘I’m delighted to have been elected president of UCU. The union was my lifeline during ten years of exploitative casual contracts. The fight for secure work and fair pay and conditions will be at the heart of my time as president.

‘We face very challenging times in further and higher education. We must work alongside the rest of the trade union movement to ensure workers’ rights are not swept away by Brexit and ensure we fully support all our migrant members in this government’s deliberate and increasingly hostile environment.

‘I stood on a platform of delivering a more open and accountable UCU and want to encourage more people to get involved with their union locally and at a national level.’

The union has set out the timetable for the election to succeed Sally Hunt as general secretary, who resigned last month due to health reasons:

  • Nominations open on Friday (8 March)
  • Nominations close on Monday 8 April
  • Ballot opens on Monday 29 April
  • Ballot closes on Thursday 23 May

Related Articles