Staffordshire ‘puts one in 10 academic jobs at redundancy risk’

Union says more than 100 jobs could go at Potteries institution

November 24, 2023
Hanley-Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire-United Kingdom June 14, 2022 city centre streets empty of shoppers due to economic pressure
Source: iStock

More than 100 jobs, including more than one in 10 academic positions, are at risk of redundancy at Staffordshire University, a union has claimed.

University and College Union (UCU) branch members will hold an emergency branch meeting in the coming days to decide how to fight back against the cuts.

In a consultation document, the university has put more than 100 jobs at risk of redundancy, with staff set to go as soon as next month, the union said.

The cuts include up to 65 academic job losses, more than a tenth of all academic staff, and some professional services staff will also be affected.

“The moral consequences of this restructure are obviously huge,” Alun Thomas, chair of the Staffordshire UCU branch, told Times Higher Education.

“These are people with young children, elderly relatives, mortgages to pay and career aspirations to pursue.

“They’ll now spend Christmas worrying about whether they’ll have work in the spring.”

Managers have insisted that the consultation period will end on 27 December and have done nothing to reassure staff that the university will recover, said Dr Thomas, an associate professor of Eurasian studies.

The UCU said the proposed cuts to academic staff included up to 31 jobs in the School of Justice, Security and Sustainability; 11 in the School of Health, Science and Wellbeing; eight in the School of Digital Technologies and the Arts; and six in the Institute of Education.

Jo Grady, the UCU’s general secretary, said the university’s reasoning behind the cuts – which the union described as a supposed reduction in income, high inflation, and the burden of a “cost-of-living” pay award made to staff for 2023-24 – did not stack up when it is running a surplus.

“It is frankly scandalous that management is calling its 5 per cent pay award a ‘cost-of-living’ payment and using it to try to justify the cuts,” Dr Grady said.

“It is a real-terms pay cut, and the staff who face losing their jobs are in much more danger of being hit by the soaring cost of living than a university with tens of millions of pounds in the bank.”

Dr Grady said less than half of the university’s income was currently spent on staffing, but it was investing huge sums in a campus in London.

“We urge management to change course immediately, and our branch will be meeting as a matter of urgency. Nothing is off the table in how we fight these brutal cuts,” Dr Grady said.

A Staffordshire University spokesperson said the institution is navigating the challenges facing the sector as a whole – including a "turbulent" student recruitment market, rising salary expenditure and broader cost increases.

The impact of the "proportionally small" reductions are not anticipated to impact on the student experience, they said.

"We recognise that this is a difficult time for staff of the university, who are directly impacted by these proposals. We remain committed to working through the consultation period to attempt to mitigate the need for any compulsory job losses."

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