Belfast 24 say no to Bain

October 8, 1999

A management move to shed 100 academics as part of a Pounds 25 million restructuring plan at Queen's University, Belfast has fallen short of its target by more than 20.

The university set September 30 as the deadline for staff to opt for severance packages or for redeployment. But up to 24 staff appear to have rejected the offer or not to have responded.

Most staff approached had controversially been identified as "research inactive" by deans, which the Association of University Teachers condemned as inaccurate and damaging to morale. The university is also axeing Italian, Semitic studies and geology in the restructuring. Meanwhile at least 80 staff have been hired.

Malcolm Andrew, pro vice-chancellor for academic planning and resources, said the remaining 24 would not face specific sanctions. But all staff were now under pressure to produce high-quality teaching and research.

"These people will be treated the same as everybody else," he said. "We're all going to be expected to perform at a certain level, which includes a decent research record and a decent teaching record. This is a new culture developing at Queen's."

Brian Everett, AUT assistant general secretary, said: "We have seen in the past year a turn-round to a much more sensible management strategy. They started in a very unfortunate way of targeting so-called underperformers."

George Bain, Queen's vice-chancellor, has said restructuring was essential if the university wants to compete globally. New posts include chairs in civil and chemical engineering, psychology, Celtic studies, English, French, politics, education, and sociology and social policy.

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