The university wants to cut 120 academic staff as part of its “transformation agenda”, in a bid to make it as “robust and efficient an institution as it can be”.
It has commenced a voluntary severance scheme under which successful applicants would be paid 18 months’ salary as a lump sum, or in pension contributions. It hopes that this offer will help to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies.
However, 880 people have now signed an online petition calling for the university to reconsider. An open letter to principal and vice-chancellor Pete Downes says the plans will cause damage to Dundee’s reputation, research standing, student experience and recruitment.
“We would support your vision to transform the University if was implemented in a way that is genuinely in the interests of the University community,” it says. “Please show us that you are a truly visionary leader by listening to your staff and students and letting us help you to transform the University in a genuinely sustainable way without resorting to putting people out of work, increasing the workloads of already overloaded staff and risking the quality of student experience.”
One of the signatories, calling himself Ian C, comments: “A ‘surplus’ is likely to be of considerably less value to the university than 120 staff, particularly if the loss of reputation/diminution of teaching and research capacity are included in the equation. Please don’t do this.”
In a statement, the university said that it had to take into account “unprecedented pressures on public spending and some challenging future financial projections, not least relating to pensions and National Insurance contributions”.
“In taking its decision to reduce academic staffing levels, [the University] Court has agreed that we will do all we can to avoid making compulsory redundancies,” it continued. “We will therefore continue to consult with the campus unions and staff in accordance with our redundancy avoidance procedure and further proposals will come forward to Court in April.”