Strike threat at university mothballing 138 courses

UCU accuses Wolverhampton vice-chancellor of ‘hiding in a bunker’ instead of discussing plans

May 31, 2022
University of Wolverhampton
Source: iStock

A UK university that suspended recruitment on to more than 100 of its courses has been threatened with strike action after staff accused leaders of “hiding in a bunker” instead of discussing the plans.

Officials at the University and College Union warned the University of Wolverhampton that they would be “left with no choice” but to call a ballot on potential industrial action if management continued to refuse to meet with them.

The suspension of at least 138 courses – the majority in performing arts, fashion, social sciences, interior design and fine art – could result in more than 20 redundancies, the union claimed, and on that basis the university had a statutory duty to consult with them but is yet to do so.

A long-planned meeting with the UCU was cancelled at short notice recently, and interim vice-chancellor Ian Campbell had not yet responded to any of the concerns raised in its correspondence, the UCU said.

Its regional official, Anne O’Sullivan, feared that the course cuts would have a “devastating” effect on student numbers and a “profound impact on the local area”.

She said that the arts and humanities departments at the university would “all but disappear” and that the number of courses on offer would “shrink dramatically”.

“Unfortunately, vice-chancellor Ian Campbell appears to be hiding in a bunker rather than facing the scrutiny that this attempted act of academic arson demands,” she said.

Wolverhampton is one of three modern universities in the UK to have recently announced plans to shut courses and cut jobs, alongside De Montfort University and the University of Roehampton, bringing warnings that pressure from regulators over “student outcomes” could inflict the inverse of “levelling-up” on struggling regions.

Professor Campbell said the decision to suspend recruitment to the courses “followed a rigorous review of our academic portfolio” and decisions were made based “on the number of applications and enrolments, as well as satisfaction scores and course performance”.

“We appreciate that those colleagues and students potentially impacted by the current course suspension will be concerned, and we apologise for any distress caused. We are currently reviewing all options in relation to the suspended courses, and will give more detail ahead of the new academic year,” he added.

The vice-chancellor thanked the UCU for its “continued, constructive engagement on behalf of the members” and promised a detailed response to its recent correspondence “in the coming days”.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles