Hundreds sign petition to save literacy unit from closure

July 22, 2010

Governors at a London university are being lobbied to save a consultancy and professional development centre for staff working in literacy and numeracy.

More than 1,000 people have signed petitions supporting London South Bank University's LLU+ - formerly the London Language and Literacy Unit - which was established in 1975. LSBU is cutting 100 jobs this summer, with fixed-term contracts due to end before 31 December subject to review, according to LSBU's University and College Union branch.

LLU+ employs 41 people and offers courses for teachers of literacy, numeracy, English for speakers of other languages and those working with people with dyslexia.

It has advised government departments and it runs family learning programmes. One project, financed by the Big Lottery Fund, helps parents who are in prison maintain links with their families by encouraging them to take part in educational activities with their children during prison visits.

In June, LSBU issued a document titled Proposal for Change that says that LLU+ is struggling to meet financial targets, with a net loss of £98,000 in 2008-09. It adds that much work "could be seen as falling outside the core business of the university". It proposes "a phased closure" of LLU+ and redundancy or redeployment for staff.

But LLU+ claims that it appeared to make a loss in 2008-09 only when the amount it was charged by the university for its facilities was increased by 56 per cent.

"Advance warning would have costed this increase into our tenders for work," it says in a response. "The majority of LLU+ income is derived from projects and consultancy contracts and ... this year our forecast income ... is £1.34 million."

Mike Wilkinson, LSBU pro vice-chancellor, said the university was undertaking a "comprehensive evaluation of all its business activities".

A spokesman for LSBU's UCU branch said the university was in good financial health and compulsory redundancies were unnecessary.

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