Keele to axe jobs

November 29, 2002

Academics' union leaders at Keele University are outraged at plans to axe 35 posts to stave off a financial crisis.

The university has told staff it needs to cut academic jobs to save £1.5 million this financial year, on top of £1 million savings in other expenditures such as library equipment and conference costs.

Nearly half of the job losses will be in two of Keele's top-rated departments for research: American studies and mathematics.

The university said the severance scheme would focus on academic units with a substantial operating deficit in relation to academic staff costs.

The move follows a drop in research income at the same time as pay awards outstripped increases in income for teaching. Keele's core teaching grant is now the smallest in the university sector.

In a statement this week, the university said that although it had real opportunities to increase student numbers and income, it lacked "sufficient investment funds needed to produce and sustain the growth".

Keele managers have drawn up a voluntary severance plan to submit to the university's council on December 19.

Peter Fletcher, president of the the Association of University Teacher's branch at Keele, said the union might consider balloting for a strike. "From what I have heard, there would be no difficulty in getting a majority in favour of industrial action," he said.

* More than 700 students attended an emergency meeting at Plymouth University this week to protest against plans to close campuses at Newton Abbot, Exeter and Exmouth, writes Phil Baty.

Vice-chancellor Roland Levinsky was told that many first-years were threatening to drop out rather than relocate.

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