Arts and social sciences 'crisis' at Edinburgh

August 7, 2008

The lecturers' trade union has claimed that arts and social sciences at the University of Edinburgh are in "crisis".

David Bleiman, assistant general secretary of the University and College Union Scotland, has written to Edinburgh's principal, Sir Tim O'Shea, reporting longstanding concerns over the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and warning that the situation is worsening.

Mr Bleiman said that since 2003-04, a disproportionately high level of personnel cases had come from the college. "More than half of the individuals in a state of grievance, concern or dispute with the university as their employer are in one college," he said.

Time had been spent "firefighting when the fires concerned should never have been lit," he added.

Mr Bleiman also accused the university of misleading the UCU over the possibility of redundancies following the merger of the Institute of Applied Language Studies and the Office of Lifelong Learning.

He said the union had asked at a June meeting of the Standing Consultative Committee for Redundancy Avoidance (SCCRA) whether consultation was needed over redundancies as a result of the merger, but had been told it was not. However, a week later it was confirmed that there were to be redundancies.

A university spokesman said managers had met the union at a "constructive" SCCRA meeting last week and had "acknowledged UCU's right to raise these matters but also indicated their disagreement with much of what is said in the letter, and their disappointment at its tone and public nature". Both parties are seeking to agree a "protocol setting out how issues of concern might best be resolved in the future".

He added: "The college is a large, diverse and dynamic entity that in recent years has enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth and achievement, and it is hoped that through continued partnership working with the unions, clear and mutual understanding of the issues raised will be restored as soon as possible."

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