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Leading universities receive Living Wage awards at Young Citizens Assembly

Seven of the University of London’s major colleges have agreed to pay their low-wage staff the London Living Wage, fixed recently by the mayor, Boris Johnson, at £7.85.

The London Living Wage (LLW) is a London-weighted minimum wage which takes into account the higher costs of living in the capital. Since it began campaigning for the LLW in 2001, London Citizens has persuaded banks, hospitals, universities and shopping centres to pay it. Since 2004, the rate has been set by City Hall – currently £7.85 as opposed to the national minimum wage (NMW) of £5.80.

The LSE, the Institute of Education, Queen Mary College, SOAS, Birkbeck, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Goldsmiths have all agreed to pay the LLW following campaigns by London Citizens. Awards were given to some of the colleges’ senior representatives, among them the Director of the LSE, Professor Howard Davies, and the Senior Vice-Principal of Queen Mary, Professor Philip Ogden.

Professor Simon Gaskell, Principal of Queen Mary, says:

“Paying the living wage and bringing the cleaning service in-house has brought dividends to Queen Mary. The college is cleaner, staff feel rewarded and the wider community – both on and off campus – have fully backed the idea.”

Professor Sir Andy Haines, Director, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says:

“The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has a strong commitment to addressing disadvantage and reducing inequities in health worldwide. Paying cleaning staff a living wage is consistent with that commitment and a recognition that as an institution we value their role in keeping our environment safe and pleasant for staff and students alike. They make an important contribution by enabling us to deliver our mission.”

Professor Howard Davies, Director, London School of Economics and Political Sciences says:

“The LSE community is supportive of the living wage commitment, which we have now implemented successfully across the school.”

Professor Paul Webley, Principal, School of Oriental and African Studies says:

“The School of Oriental and African Studies is above all else a community that celebrates diversity and is respectful and collegial. Paying the living wage for catering and cleaning staff is an important part of this as it ensures that lower paid workers have a better standard of living in one of Europe's most expensive cities, allowing them to care properly for their families.”

Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, says:

“In March 2009, Birkbeck’s Governors supported a move to pay the living wage to our contract cleaning and catering staff.  Governors responded positively to the views of the present college community – students, staff and Trade Unions – and acknowledged that this move was very much in keeping with the broader mission and ethos of the College.  Since then, we have worked closely with our contractors and Trade Unions to implement changes in pay and to commence constructive discussions on the broader living wage agenda. We are now in discussion with ULU itself about extending the living wage to the ULU-contracted staff who provide our student and staff bar services and look forward to a positive outcome as the next step in our living wage implementation.”

Chris Pearson, Director of Human Resources, Goldsmiths College says:

“Goldsmiths College is delighted to be associated with the London Living Wage Campaign. We have already ensured that all our own staff at Goldsmiths are paid substantially above the Mayor’s recently declared figure for the Living Wage. Contractors know that they too will be expected to pay the Living Wage as a minimum to their staff who work in Goldsmiths. If they don’t already do so, they will have to as contracts come up for review or renewal shortly.”

Professor Geoff Whitty, Director of the Institute of Education says:

“The Institute of Education values the contributions of all colleagues who help deliver a first rate student experience. Our externally contracted staff are part of our community and moving to paying the Living Wage is one way in which we can demonstrate our recognition of their contribution to the student experience here at the Institute of Education. In times of financial constraint, making such a commitment will require considerable innovation and flexibility. However, we are intent on working towards the Living Wage as both a reflection of our institutional values and as good business sense.”

Nizam Uddin and Mazdak Alizadeh, President and Vice-President of the University of London Union (ULU), say:

“As University of London students, we’re very proud of the Colleges who are paying the London Living Wage. We expect those not doing it to follow suit. The University of London was founded in 1836 by King’s College London (KCL) and University College London (UCL) on the principles of fair access to education. The Living wage embodies this very principle by ensuring that no child is prevented from accessing Higher Education because of poverty.”