Axe hovers over Imperial’s faculty of medicine

Up to 130 jobs could go, UCU report claims. Rebecca Attwood reports

July 14, 2009

More than 100 jobs could go at Imperial College London’s faculty of medicine, it has emerged.

According to the University and College Union, 80 of the faculty’s academic posts may be at risk, plus 50 administrative and technical roles.

The faculty, established in 1997, is one of Europe’s largest medical institutions, taking on more than 300 undergraduates a year.

But earlier this year, Imperial lost £5 million in recurrent research funding following disappointing results in some areas of the 2008 research assessment exercise.

The college was ranked 11th in Times Higher Education’s Table of Excellence in cancer studies, and fifth in cardiovascular medicine.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said: “We are still waiting for full details of exactly how many redundancies there might be in the faculty. However, as many as 80 academic jobs (21 per cent of the total) and 50 administrative and technical staff may be threatened.

“Imperial needs to make a clear and public case for any job losses, since it is not in financial difficulties – as can be seen from its own accounts and ongoing building projects.

“It is difficult to see how the faculty could function after cuts and disruption on this scale when students arrive for the new academic session.”

In May, it emerged that Imperial plans to cut back its foreign language provision, with the loss of up to 20 jobs.

If given the go-ahead, the proposal would mark the end of its beginners’ language courses, with its Arabic, Italian, Japanese and Russian provision also closing completely by 2010-11.

A spokeswoman for Imperial College London said: “A consultation exercise has begun within… the faculty, which aims to safeguard its internationally leading research and education activities, and address a significant projected deficit over the next five years.

“The proposals seek to create a financially sustainable structure within which outstanding staff can be supported and nurtured.”

The UCU warned this week that London is facing “a crisis in higher education”.

Union research, to be published on Thursday 16 July in Times Higher Education magazine, shows that one in three of the capital’s major universities is cutting or looking to cut jobs.

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