Letter: Truth about job losses 1

March 22, 2002

In your front-page article ("Grant cuts threaten 1,000 jobs", THES , March 15), you assert that Oxford Brookes University is "already facing the loss of 140 academic staff".

This is not true. Oxford Brookes has recently announced a series of course closures that could result in the loss of 25 posts, and anticipates that 45 to 75 others may go over time, but these will not all be academic posts.

The decisions that have been made so far are a result of a review we have been undertaking of undergraduate programmes. This process began last year and has been conducted by a group of senior academics at the university.

The group has drawn on a wide range of data and has produced a number of recommendations for course closure and review.

The senior management team of the university accepted its recommendations only in relation to chemistry, cartography, civil engineering and geology. All of these courses have experienced severe recruitment difficulties in recent years and this has made them not viable.

Tom Wilson, head of the universities department at lecturers' union Natfhe, is correct, however, in locating the ultimate responsibility for cuts such as these in continuing reductions in university funding. We receive 37 per cent less money, on average, for each student than we did when we were a polytechnic. The university has reached the point where programmes that cannot demonstrate a firm and robust recruitment base must be phased out.

This year's allocation of funds, and the failure to fully fund improved research ratings, exacerbate the situation.

Graham Upton
Vice-chancellor
Oxford Brookes University

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