Cuts threaten access reputation, Ulster staff claim

Academics fear that 'provision of teaching will be seriously diminished'. Matthew Reisz writes

March 22, 2012



Credit: Alamy


Proposed jobs cuts at the University of Ulster amount to the institution "abdicating its responsibilities to the wider community that funds it" and may "leave a massive hole in the educational provision for the children of Northern Ireland".

Those are among the claims made in an open letter to Ulster's vice-chancellor, Richard Barnett, that has been signed by 50 members of staff, 130 current and former students, as well as "concerned individuals" from across the world.

The letter was sent out on 13 March by Neal Garnham, senior lecturer in history at Ulster, with the worldwide group headed by the renowned literary theorist Terry Eagleton, now distinguished visitor in the department of English at the University of Notre Dame in the US.

Acknowledging that reduced funding from the Northern Ireland government necessitated spending cuts, the letter argues that "we must all take our fair share of the burden". Yet large-scale redundancies, including claims that a quarter of those teaching history, English and modern languages will lose their posts, mean that "provision of teaching and student care in some areas will become seriously diminished, if not inadequate".

All this was particularly serious, the letter goes on, in an institution that "prides itself on its ability to widen access to higher education for groups who have traditionally been excluded". It says that 1,500 Ulster students have some form of disability or suffer from long-term ill health, while almost 40 per cent hail from lower-income homes.

"Many more than the national average have caring responsibilities, looking after children, parents or other family members. We help these people...to achieve better things for themselves and their families in later life," the letter says.

"The university is trying to push through piecemeal changes fairly rapidly so that particular areas get eroded without anyone noticing," Dr Garnham said.

A spokesman for Ulster said that its decisions had taken account of "existing workloads across the disciplines". Although eight posts would be lost in English and history, "in the Ulster Business School, an additional 10 posts are being filled. The overall aim is to bring performance across the disciplines more into line," the spokesman added.

He said the institution was "confident these changes will not impact at all on our excellent record...for widening access ".

Asked for an alternative to the cuts, Dr Garnham said: "If the vice-chancellor gave me three weeks and a look at the books, I could save him £1 million - there's a lot of fat to be trimmed."

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Retired academics calculating moves while playing bowls

Lincoln Allison, Eric Thomas and Richard Larschan reflect on the ‘next phase’ of the scholarly life