Cardiff announces plans to axe equivalent of 380 jobs

Welsh university says it is not currently planning compulsory redundancies but cannot rule them out in future

February 11, 2019
Cardiff University

Cardiff University has said that it will cut the equivalent of 380 full-time jobs over the next five years – equal to one in 14 posts at the institution.

Cardiff announced the move to cut staffing levels by 7 per cent after reporting a £22.8 million deficit for the past financial year, and revealing that it expected to make another £10.6 million loss this year. A turnaround plan called “Transforming Cardiff” was agreed at a council meeting on 11 February.

The university has launched a voluntary severance scheme and said that “no compulsory redundancies have been proposed to [the university] council at this stage”. “However, like all universities, we cannot rule out compulsory redundancies in the future,” the vice-chancellor, Colin Riordan, said in a message to staff.

The decision to cut jobs has been taken even though the turnaround plan includes proposals to significantly increase student numbers over the next five years: by 4 per cent at undergraduate level, “with a particular focus on growth in international student numbers”, and by 7 per cent at postgraduate taught level.

Cardiff said that its staff costs had accounted for 59.6 per cent of staff costs in 2017-18, the highest percentage in the Russell Group. It wants to reduce this to 56 per cent by 2022-23, and argued that its plan to reduce staffing levels was “manageable” compared with an average voluntary staff turnover of more than 6 per cent.

Other plans under the Transforming Cardiff programme include:

  • Merging three schools – English, communication and philosophy, modern languages, and Welsh – to form a new School of Literatures, Languages and Creative Practice
  • Reconfiguring the School of Healthcare Sciences, discontinuing some programmes which are perceived to be underperforming
  • Co-locating the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Professor Riordan said that the university wanted to “align financial imperatives with innovative ways of delivering teaching, research and our civic mission”.

“We are committed to supporting our outstanding people, and want to manage this change programme over a five-year period so that we can retain and build on excellence,” he said.

Stuart Palmer, Cardiff’s chair of council, said: “Like all universities, Cardiff University faces significant financial challenges. Council is reassured that Transforming Cardiff will see the university move back into surplus in a way that minimises disruption to our excellent staff and students.”

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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