£4m on reorganising, yet still more jobs must go

Aberystwyth University will run voluntary severance scheme despite having already spent millions on restructuring

February 5, 2015

More jobs are set to go at a university that has spent £3.9 million on restructuring over the past two years.

Aberystwyth University’s accounts for 2013-14 confirm that the institution expects to run at a deficit for the next two years and that it will operate a voluntary severance scheme during this period to “create a more fit-for-purpose staffing structure that reflects changes in student demands”.

It spent £2.8 million on restructuring in 2013-14 and £1 million the year before that, the accounts show. The data also highlight a drop in student recruitment. According to the latest Ucas figures, 2,325 applicants accepted places at Aberystwyth in 2014, down for the third successive year since a high of 3,285 in 2011.

The university has continued to invest in other areas, and its overall staff headcount has grown from 2,300 to 2,495 in the past year, according to submissions to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. However, the salary paid to vice-chancellor April McMahon shrank from £228,000 in 2012-13 to £219,000 last year, the accounts say.

Martin Wilding, president of the University and College Union branch at Aberystwyth, expressed concern that compulsory redundancies would have to be made if sufficient savings could not be found through voluntary severance.

“Because of the inevitable reduction in staff and non-renewal of posts, the workload is going to go up – that’s the experience most people are having now,” Dr Wilding said. “Provision is stretched thinner and student satisfaction goes down, so there’s a sense it is spiralling.”

The university made a surplus of £306,000 last year, but this was significantly less than the £2.4 million that was expected, because of the severance scheme.

A university spokesman said that planned deficits were a “well understood way” of adapting to change, particularly when an organisation wished to approach staffing changes “on a substantially voluntary basis”.

“As with any other multimillion-pound business, particularly within a…competitive market, the university is adapting to ensure that the business is fit for purpose and delivers what our students require. Naturally, this can result in changes to staffing structures, processes and policies. The university involves its staff and takes account of student feedback in proposed changes, and in identifying ways in which we can develop more efficient and effective services,” the spokesman said.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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