King’s College was told cutting more staff could be ‘difficult’

Credit agency report came before recent plans to reduce head count

July 17, 2014

A credit agency warned King’s College London that cost savings through staff cuts could be “quite difficult” following a spate of redundancies five years ago.

The report, published in July 2013, has angered unions, who are now questioning why the institution is implementing a restructuring process that will lead to job losses.

But Kings said it is “not correct to suggest” the college ignored the credit agency warning.

At least 60 jobs in the schools of medicine and biomedical sciences and at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings are at risk in a move designed to reduce staffing costs.

A report on the financial health of the institution by credit agency Standard and Poor’s was published in July 2013. It said: “Further staff-cost curtailment will be quite difficult, in our opinion, as King’s has already decreased costs since 2008-2009 and pressure to maintain its academic and non-academic services will weigh on its ability to cut costs further.”

The University and College Union claims the report suggests that more job losses would threaten the quality of courses, and damage the university’s reputation and income. 

UCU regional official Barry Jones said: “The loss of more academics will affect the quality of courses at King’s College and damage its very strong reputation, which is a key currency in the developing higher education market.”

A statement from King’s in response to the UCU’s comments said: “The rating report from Standard and Poor’s, which dates from last year, simply acknowledges the challenge for academic institutions that reducing staff costs always needs to be balanced against quality considerations.”

It added: “We have discussed our financial prospects more recently with Standard and Poor’s, and whilst we have yet to receive the more up to date 2014 rating review, we believe the rating agency is entirely supportive of this measured approach.

“Our review of the health schools is part of a range of actions to improve academic and financial performance, which includes income generation, productivity and efficiency improvement and revisiting our capital plans.”

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Reader's comments (5)

You can read the report from Standard & Poor's at
The S&P report also states that the 10% surplus that KCL is trying to achieve, which were cited by management as the reason for the cuts, were unnecessary and that only 3% would be needed to fund the current capital investment programme. Sadly the more we learn about this, the more incompetent KCL management appear. KCL press office warned today that the financial consequences of the reputational damage will far exceed the tiny savings they are going to make from redundancies. The tragedy is that KCL managers were too remote or ill-advised to understand that irreversible reputational damage would be the inevitable consequence of their actions. Robert Lechler and his colleagues now have no option but to abandon this process and resign from their positions. They may then limit the damage they have already done to their own reputations, and more importantly, to that of KCL.
At least we will soon know what KCL think via this comments thread
The 'instituional damage' done by KCL to its 'brand' in 2010 has already been forgotten, with Trainor elected Rector of Exeter College Oxford and Palmowski a Vicechancellor at Warwick.
I wonder how much money Kings has spent on legal fees and settlements of disputes in the last 4 years - I notice that they are one of the universities that refused to provide figures for the FOI requests underpinning Paul Jump's recent article. If its on the same level as some other universities, it could probably have made a big contribution to the salaries currently under question. The students at Kings might like to know how much of their fees was wasted this way and how much more is projected to be spent on the cuurent debacle......

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