Up to 250 jobs set to go as university mothballs arts courses

Scale of redundancies and resignations announced by Wolverhampton far surpasses figure previously expected

July 8, 2022
University of Wolverhampton
Source: iStock

Up to 250 jobs may be lost at a UK university after it announced sweeping changes to its arts and humanities courses. 

The University of Wolverhampton has confirmed 150 roles are at risk of redundancy and a further 100 staff members will leave through a “mutually agreed resignation scheme”.

The institution has mothballed around 140 courses in performing arts, fashion, social sciences, interior design and fine art, making it one of several modern institutions dramatically scaling back its offerings this summer.

However, the scale of the job losses far surpass what was expected at the institution – the University and College Union (UCU) previously said around 20 jobs were thought to be at risk. 

Wolverhampton's UCU branch said on Twitter that interim vice-chancellor Ian Campbell – who only took on the role in January – had told staff members affected the move was necessary to ensure the “right size and right shape of our organisation”.

UCU’s former president Vicky Blake criticised Professor Campbell’s handing of the announcement, tweeting: “13 minutes to announce devastation, via Teams, no questions. This is not what leadership looks like.”

Wolverhampton had been threatened with strike action if management continued with the plans, and UCU has accused the institution's leaders of “hiding in a bunker” instead of meeting with its representatives. 

Concerns have been raised about the provision of humanities courses at post-92 institutions with critics claiming the government’s focus on “student outcomes” is forcing universities to reassess their options, including potentially ditching subjects that have traditionally not led to high wages for graduates.

A spokesperson for Wolverhampton said employees affected by the proposal will “now enter a period of consultation in partnership with the university and the relevant trade unions”, adding that the university was “committed to treating all staff with dignity and respect throughout this difficult time”.

The spokesperson said the university’s new leadership team has been “transparent and open with staff, students and the trade unions around the challenges it currently faces” and blamed the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising inflation for significantly increasing costs at the institution.

“At the same time, like many similar modern universities, student enrolments – and associated tuition-fee income – have been falling,” the spokesperson said. 

“This difficult financial landscape significantly impacts the university’s ability to reduce its current financial deficit of £20 million – something that must be addressed to ensure the future financial sustainability of the university.” 


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