Job cuts to fund growth

June 16, 2006

Wolverhampton wants redundancies so that it can expand in-demand courses, writes Chloe Stothart

Wolverhampton University is planning to make up to 53 staff redundant in order to redirect money into growing subject areas.

The job cuts, in the schools of humanities, languages and social sciences, engineering and the built environment, and the business school, will save money to be reinvested in other subject areas. The university hopes that all the job losses will be voluntary.

Local University and College Union activists estimated that up to twenty academics and ten support staff in the business school, five academics in humanities, languages and social sciences, and five academic staff and eleven technical staff in engineering and the built environment, and two others could lose their jobs.

The university said that precise numbers would depend on how many staff applied for voluntary redundancy. Staff have already been invited to apply, and the process is expected to be complete by the end of November 2007, the local UCU branch said.

A local union spokesman said: "The UCU locally has serious misgivings about the need for such frequent 'restructuring and rebalancing exercises' in the affected schools."

Geoff Hurd, the deputy vice-chancellor of Wolverhampton, said: "We want to develop new areas of expertise in our business school, including logistics and supply-chain management, and healthcare leadership.

"In the other schools, resources will be invested in new academic appointments to meet growth in demand for qualifying courses in social work and in construction, the latter being fuelled by national and regional economic activity.

"It is always a matter of regret to lose valued staff and their collective expertise. However, we also have to ensure that courses are meeting students' needs."

He added that the university did not envisage compulsory redundancies and that the final number of job losses would depend on how many people volunteered to leave. Many posts would be replaced with new jobs in developing areas of the university, he said.

Meanwhile, Surrey University told staff last Monday that it intended to cut jobs as part of a move to generate between £8 million and £10 million by 2010.

In a newsletter to staff, Christopher Snowden, the vice-chancellor, said the university needed to close the gap between its income and expenditure by creating new programmes and through expected income such as tuition fees, as well as through a "reduction in staffing".

A working party is looking at a restructuring. It is considering merging schools, a reduction in academic and central support costs, and continually reviewing subjects that do not attract sufficient students or research funds.

The announcements come one month after Anglia Ruskin University told staff that it would close its languages department in 2008-09. Between 18 and 20 staff would be made redundant, initially via a voluntary scheme.

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