Cuts fuel campus disputes

June 5, 1998

Cuts and restructuring are causing upheaval in universities countrywide. Thes reporters look at four hotspots.


Plans to shed 60 academic posts at Cambridge University through an early retirement scheme could "turn into a redundancy scheme by the back door", it is feared, writes Phil Baty.

Staff cuts, designed to save Pounds 1.5 million in wages, with an immediate saving of Pounds 750,000 for 1998-99, are set to provoke a row among academics when the annual funding policy is discussed next week.

According to the university allocations report this week, "it will be necessary to identify posts which can be removed permanently from the establishment without reducing overall income".

Gill Evans, a lecturer whose campaign for more transparent procedures for appointments and promotions saw her successfully freeze Cambridge's budget last year when she forced a ballot on the allocations report, wants the Cambridge governing council to publish clear policy statements, setting out its criteria for "selection".

Cambridge vice-chancellor Alec Broers, this week stressed that there would be no compulsion. "It is important to bear in mind that the reduction will amount to less than 1 per cent of our overall staff budget," he said. Professor Broers blamed "the continuation of government-imposed cuts in overall funding unrelated to present discussions about the future of the college fee".

The allocations report projects Pounds 297.1 million income for 1998-99, against Pounds 297.9 million projected expenditure. Cambridge is expecting Pounds 114.2 million from funding council grant and fees, up from Pounds 111.2 last year, Pounds 106 million from research grants and contracts, Pounds 28.3 million from elsewhere. Income from endowments is expected to rise by Pounds 1 million to Pounds 31.7 million. Overseas fees income is expected to be Pounds 16.9 million.

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