The recent news that over 200 staff will leave the University in a cost cutting scheme likely to be imposed by management can only be bad news for students. A reduction in University staff of 10% cannot fail to have a knock on effect on the quality of the institution as a whole.
While these cuts are being proposed across the whole University, union leaders have recognised that administrative staff are most at risk. While the University claim they are attempting to make the institution more efficient, it is difficult to see how this will become a reality. We are a large institution, generating huge amounts of complicated administrative work that will not diminish when staff leave. There has been speculation that administrative duties will pass to lecturers, disrupting and damaging the quality of teaching and research.
The University have claimed that there will be no need for compulsory redundancies in implementing the plans. This would mean the majority of staff would leave through voluntary severance schemes, and the Unions have called on the University to ensure the terms of this deal are attractive, and the process through which it is achieved is transparent. They argue that lessons must be learnt from the previous attempts at restructuring under former Vice Chancellor Bill Wakeham, who attempted to introduce changes in ‘too short a timescale and without building the consensus necessary to make it work’. They therefore call on management to hold open and transparent negotiations with the recognised trade unions, rather than simply impose the changes on staff. In this respect, the University has something to learn from the recent treatment of halls wardens, where a consultation process described as nothing more than a farce has left a bitter taste in the mouth of those involved.
Regardless of the means in which it is carried out, the news is still bad for Southampton students, both present and future. Such a large number of staff leaving the University will undoubtedly result in a reduction in the quality of education we receive, at the same time as fees threaten to spiral up. The root cause for this is clearly the squeeze on funding to higher education, the plans were announced the day after the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced that the University’s funding will be cut by £361,000.
The plans are set to be rubber stamped by University council at a meeting on Thursday 25th March. Incidentally, this is the same day as the final decision will be made over the proposals to end Sports degrees. Students Against Cuts have called a protest outside the council meeting. People will meet opposite Jubilee Sports Centre on University Road at 3:00 PM. Any students currently in Southampton are encouraged to attend. A Facebook event has been created for the protest which can be accessed here.
What do you think about the University’s plans to cut jobs? Leave your comments below: