Progress on the insourcing of contracted-out staff

The Board of the University of London has agreed to the Vice Chancellor’s proposal to support the principle of insourcing staff. The University will now therefore begin to insource the security staff and cleaners, in consultation with the recognised trade unions and staff representatives. This follows the insourcing of receptionists, porters, postroom and AV staff earlier this year. The Board of Trustees also considered the Estates Maintenance services and agreed that due to the nature of the University’s historic estate and the technical skills required, this service would remain contracted to a specialist supplier.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Wendy Thomson said: ‘My arrival provides an opportunity for the University to clarify its position. The strength of feeling within the University community, the undertakings that have been given to staff and the financial position shaped my view, together with the potential harm of the boycott to staff and the events organised by the University, and the positions being adopted on this issue by other institutions in the higher education sector. There are also unplanned costs and inconvenience associated with additional security required to manage in these circumstances. Clearly we need to support insourcing in principle and begin to take practical measures to achieve that where possible.’

Security: It is intended that the security staff will be brought in-house by 20 May 2020. The work to progress the bringing in-house of the cleaners and security officers is already in progress. Current contractors have been informed of the Board’s support for this work and meetings are planned to discuss the TUPE process requirements and timeline.

Cleaning: It is also our intention for the cleaners to be transferred to the University as soon as practicable after the security staff join the University. We are anticipating that this work will be completed by November 2020. 

Estates Maintenance: The Board of Trustees agreed that Estates Maintenance services should remain contracted out to a specialist supplier. These services are of a technical nature and delivered by technical staff who require specialist continuous training and management to ensure adherence to legislative compliance. The currently selected preferred partner was rigorously evaluated on their employment terms and conditions, has confirmed that all staff will be on secure contracts and will be paid well above the London Living Wage. The supplier has also committed to adopting the Government’s Good Work Plan and we will continue to engage with the preferred supplier on staffing to ensure good terms and conditions, strong people policies, and evidence of fair treatment of all staff.

You may read the University’s previous statements on the insourcing process here.

The chart below indicates the timetable for bringing staff in house.

Insourcing timeline

Visiting Senate House 

Senate House is open for business and we look forward to welcoming you to this iconic Art Deco landmark in the heart of Bloomsbury. You may be asked to show a photo ID at the entrance. Bag searches are occasionally in operation. While you are in Senate House, please do not leave bags unattended at any time. If you wish to confirm event details, including location, please be in touch with the School of Advanced Study's events team: email or call +44 (0)20 7862 8833. You may review the University’s Visitor Regulations here:​.

Statement on the boycott of Senate House

A small group of campaigners has called for a boycott of events at Senate House in support of outsourced workers. We believe this call is illogical and are dismayed by the inaccurate and misleading claims that have been made. Sadly, School of Advanced Study academic staff and event organisers have been subjected to intimidation and harassment by the campaigners, often from anonymous social media accounts. We hope that your attendance at our events and support for the event organisers will send the message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. There is no picket line: visitors are free to come and go subject only to brief security checks.

It is regrettable that during demonstrations organised by, or claimed as being in support of, the IWGB and their campaign, the University has experienced attempted and actual occupations aimed at disrupting the business of the University. These have included disruptive behaviour (eg, the use of rape alarms and sirens, the setting off of smoke flares) and actions that have placed those participating in demonstrations at personal risk (eg, individuals jumping into the deep light wells of Senate House in efforts to occupy the building). It is principally for these reasons that the University has, during announced demonstrations, introduced tighter access and security control measures, recognising that it has a duty of care to all involved. 

As noted above, the University supports the principle of insourcing services and is following a methodical programme to do so. Front of house, portering, post room, and AV services have already been brought in-house. It has agreed to bring security and cleaning staff in house, as well, and is in the process of doing so. 

Living wage: The University requires all of its contractors to pay, as a minimum, the London Living Wage (LLW). All of the University’s contractors have confirmed that they have applied the most recent LLW uplift.

Zero hours contracts: The University has also requested that zero-hours contracts not be used by our suppliers at the University and all have confirmed that existing staff on such contracts have been offered new contracts and that new staff will not be offered such contracts. The University is aware that individuals working within its larger service contractors presently benefit from flexible working hours, which it understands for many, if not all, provides welcome flexibility, including opportunities for work with other employers. This level of flexibility would be difficult to replicate for directly employed staff. Moreover, it is the University’s understanding that the contribution to their pensions that staff working within our contracted-out services are required to make is modest compared to the contributions that would be required by the University’s schemes, and this is, importantly for them, reflected in their take-home pay.

Public Sector Equality Duty: The University takes its Public Sector Equality Duty seriously and is committed to providing a working environment free from all forms of bullying, harassment, and discrimination for all who work in our buildings. 

Information sharing: It is important to note that while the University works hard to ensure that our contractors work to high levels of industry practice, this does not extend to inserting itself into their employment processes and procedures. It would not be appropriate for the University to negotiate with individuals working within its contracted-out services as it is not their employer. That said, the University makes every effort to keep those working for our contractors fully informed of its plans as they progress. The University also meets regularly with its recognised trade unions – UCU and Unison – and has established a formal sub-group of its Joint Negotiating Committee to discuss the programme of work being undertaken in relation to the University’s facilities management services. This programme of work is also discussed with staff representatives (some of whom are officers of the IWGB) at its Information & Consultation of Employees (ICE) Forum.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I learn more about the University’s position on bringing outsourced workers in house? Please visit for a summary of the University’s plans and a timeline. Updates are available at

I am planning to attend an event at Senate House. Will it be moved or cancelled because of the boycott?
Most events scheduled to take place at Senate House will not be moved or cancelled because of the boycott. If an event’s location must be changed, or if it’s cancelled for any reason, its organisers will make every effort to contact those who have registered for it. If you did not register, or simply wish to confirm event details, please email or call (0)20 7862 8833 and we would be happy to help.

I need to use Senate House Library (or the IHR Library, or the ICS Library). Will I have any problem doing so?
No. Our libraries are open as usual. They may occasionally close at short notice for special events or for security reasons. You can check opening hours here: Senate House Library –; IHR Library -; ICS Library - Closures are announced with as much advance notice as possible on these websites and on social media.

I’m a student and have a meeting with my supervisor (or instructor) in Senate House. Will I have any problem getting in?
No. Simply show your student ID to security at the door.

I’m a student (or ECR) from another university and am coming to a research training event. Will I have any problem getting in?
No. Simply show your student ID (or other photo ID) to security at the door.

I’m an academic planning to host an event in Senate House. Who can I talk to about the boycott?
Please write to with any questions or concerns.

What kind of security is in place at Senate House?
You may be asked to show a photo ID at the entrance. Bag searches are occasionally in operation. While you are in Senate House, please do not leave bags unattended at any time. You may review the University’s Visitor Regulations here:​.

Will I have to cross a picket line?
No. There is no picket line. Visitors are free to come and go subject only to brief security checks.