Deficit leads to plan to shut 16 courses

One London institution eyes job cuts, while others look at losses and pay. Rebecca Attwood writes

June 18, 2009

Senior managers at the London College of Communication plan to close 16 of the 19 courses offered in one of its schools.

Redundancies are expected if proposals to restructure the college, replacing its four schools with two faculties, go ahead.

The LCC had a deficit of £1.3 million at the end of 2007-08, while its parent body, the University of the Arts London, is looking to save up to £7 million over the next year.

Sandra Kemp, head of the LCC, said the college was looking to put greater focus on its "core strengths" such as journalism, photography and animation.

A document detailing the plans says that 16 courses in the School of Creative Enterprise - "which are not closely related to the academic mission of the college" - will accept their final intake this autumn. More than 750 students currently take the "at risk" courses.

The college's further education provision may also be "substantially downsized".

Professor Kemp said the college was still in "early discussions" about its future, and that the college hoped to redeploy those affected where possible.

Ronald Todd, secretary of the University and College Union's University of the Arts branch, criticised the proposals: "This is not based on educationally sound, meaningful consultation with the staff of the LCC, or other stakeholders, or representative unions, but is based on a business case that is extremely flawed, with clear absence of a logical, rational educational structure," he said.

"It is not the head of college's role to push through wide-ranging changes that will significantly affect staff security of employment, the established structure and proven internal working of the schools and, ultimately, the quality and breadth of the curriculum and course offer, without thorough and in-depth prior discussions being undertaken with all stakeholders."

Jobs may also be at risk at King's College London, where the engineering division is facing the axe.

Chris Mottershead, vice-principal of research and innovation, said it was "more likely than not" that the division would close.

A decision is due later this month. If the closure goes ahead, it is likely to be coupled with the creation of a new School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences.

Meanwhile, the UCU has also strongly criticised the University of Westminster after it said it could not afford to deliver three years' worth of back pay to staff.

Westminster is introducing the national pay deal thrashed out in 2006, known as the framework agreement, but has told staff it will not backdate the change.

The UCU said Westminster was "the only institution in the UK that has failed to deliver a clear agreement on back pay" and is advising staff not to sign up.

The move follows redundancies in the computing and ceramics departments, and planned job losses in the integrated health department.

The university said its offer represented "a fresh start".

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com.

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