Revealed: The candidates bidding to lead UCU

Ahead of nominations opening, the early frontrunners to replace Sally Hunt as the UCU union general secretary have emerged

George Ryan

Two contenders for UCU general secretary have announced their candidacy

At least two contenders are running to become the next leader of the University and College Union (UCU).

Jo McNeill and Matt Waddup have both declared their intentions to stand. Ms McNeill is a candidate on the left of the union who stood against former general scretary Sally Hunt in 2017, while Mr Waddup is currently the UCU's head of policy and campaigns.

Tes understands that Jo Grady, a senior lecturer in employment relations at the University of Sheffield who was recently elected to the UCU national executive committee, is also considering standing.

Read more: More walkouts expected at combative UCU Congress

Background: Sally Hunt wins UCU re-election

More news: UCU general secretary resigns


UCU runners and riders

Ms Hunt announced her resignation as general secretary – a post she has been in since 2007, when the union was formed – last month on health grounds.


Ms McNeill is the president of the University of Liverpool UCU branch and is a prominent figure on the left of the union. She is a former student at Hugh Baird College.

She took 41 per cent of the votes when she stood against Ms Hunt in 2017 – but was beaten by an 18 percentage-point margin. In a recent, closely-fought election for the HE vice-president position, Ms McNeill came last in the first preference votes with 30 per cent, and was eliminated.


'Unite to win'

Mr Waddup has had a long trade union career, previously working at the RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) for 14 years. He returned to education to study A levels at night school.

He has worked closely with Ms Hunt since 2002, when she appointed him as assistant general secretary of the UCU’s predecessor, the Association of University Teachers. He has deputised for Ms Hunt on industrial relations, policy and campaigning during her sick leave. He used the "Unite to win" slogan in a blog post introducing his candidacy. 

Nominations open tomorrow, Friday 8 March, and will close on Monday 8 April. Ballots will then open on Monday 29 April and close again on Thursday 23 May. The annual UCU Congress will be held from Saturday 25 May to Monday 27 May.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

Latest stories