Vicky Blake Biography

Vice President candidate

I’m currently employed as a widening participation officer at the University of Leeds. Before this, I worked on multiple casualised contracts to support postgraduate study at the University of Durham. I grew up and attended state school in Somerset and got my passion for activism and education from my mum, who left school at 16 and went back to college when I was 9. Mum organised and took me on my first protest outside my infant school, over health and safety concerns ignored by the Head. Alongside union work I enjoy organising gigs and events as part of the We Shall Overcome (solidarity, not charity) movement: events are pay-as-you-can, collecting donations which go directly to people in need via homeless outreach, and food banks.


As an academic-related member in widening participation, I work with academics across a variety of disciplines, with school and college students, and with their teachers and tutors. I have worked in academic and academic-related roles, on many variations of insecure contracts.


I joined UCU as a Durham University postgraduate in 2009, while firmly skewered on the sharp end of precarious work. I juggled multiple zero-hours teaching and admin roles, topped up with bar work. By 2011, I was surviving on a patchwork of hourly-paid part-time contracts across the Universities of Leeds and Durham.


In 2012 I joined the Leeds UCU committee and am now Branch President. I work hard to involve ordinary members and activists in all branch activities and to keep energy levels at a maximum during industrial action. I have a reputation as a strong negotiator and we have been successful at negotiating and maintaining strong local agreements. In the current climate, we also fight tirelessly to avoid slippage.


I am an experienced chair of large and challenging meetings. I currently co-chair the UCU Democracy Commission (created by UCU Congress 2018), which is improving the accessibility and representativeness of UCU for all members across all our sectors. I also chair the national UCU Education Committee, which recently launched far-reaching proposals for a post-qualification university admissions system.


I work hard to communicate and explain the work of UCU committees and bodies to members, through local meetings and my Twitter feed.


I have taken an active and prominent role in many campaigns, at local and national levels. During the USS Strikes in 2018, I frequently represented UCU in local and national media, including television news for BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. I have written for the Guardian on casualisation; with Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty, I also coordinated a major front-page exposé of the ‘Sports Direct’ model of employment in universities.


UCU has given me a voice and a space to learn how to use it. I believe in doing, not just saying.


Leeds University UCU:

•       Committee 2012-present

•       Membership Officer 2014-15

•       Vice President 2015-17

•       President 2017-19


National UCU:

•       Anti-Casualisation: 2011-17; Chair 2012-17

•       Women Members: 2011-13; 2016-17; 2018-19

•       NEC, HEC: Casualised representative 2013-17; National representative 2017-19

•       Recruitment, Organising, Campaigns: 2013-18

•       Academic Related, Professional Staff: 2016-18

•       Education: 2016-19; Chair 2018-19

•       Democracy Commission: Co-Chair 2018-19

•       Strategy and Finance Committee: 2018-



•       Women's TUC 2012-13, 2017

•       TUC 2016, 2018


Web: Vicky4VP.co.uk

Facebook: VickyBlake4NEC

Twitter: @zenscara