Can Star Wars save job cuts at London Met?

April 28, 2009

Campaigning staff at London Metropolitan University have turned to “the Force” for help in fighting hundreds of job cuts at their institution.

A spoof scene from Star Wars has been posted on YouTube, in which Princess Leia has been transformed into a helpless member of staff from London Met.

In the original scene, the princess asks for assistance in resisting the evil Empire, but in the doctored clip, her voice has been dubbed over.

She explains the financial difficulties facing the university to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, and issues a plea for their support.

“Years ago, I got a job at London Met University,” the voiceover says. “The people I work with are great… Now [the management] want to make 550 redundancies… They plan to outsource our IT department, close libraries and dozens of courses.

“It is a recipe for disaster. The unions are doing all they can to stop the cuts, but management just ignore our protests and we need more support. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi – you are our only hope.”

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has reduced London Met’s grant for 2008-09 by £15 million, and may claw back a further £38 million. It says London Met has been overpaid because the university submitted incorrect data returns on its student numbers.

In February, the university’s vice-chancellor, who has since stepped down, proposed cutting up to 550 full-time equivalent posts by July 2010.

The university’s University and College Union branch is balloting members on whether to take industrial action.

  • See Times Higher Education magazine, 30 April issue, for more on the cuts and London Met.

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