UNIVERSITIES facing severe budget cuts have been forced to shuffle academic administration in a bid to save cash, writes Harriet Swain.
Leeds University, which expects to lose more than 100 staff through cost cutting, is consulting on restructuring plans that will take much administration away from departments. Consultations are taking place in Birmingham and Bradford on similar proposals.
Leeds vice chancellor Alan Wilson said he hoped to give Leeds a head start by bringing in the measures before other universities. The university, which has doubled student numbers and trebled research income in the past seven years, must still save Pounds 4 million over the next three years to balance its books. It aims to create six research-led faculties comprising up to 20 schools and replacing the seven faculties, 53 departments, 12 schools and some 35 centres and institutes it has at present.
Professor Wilson said: "We have to restructure to create, by a mixture of cost cutting and income generation, a cut of at least Pounds 4 million in three years and Pounds 2 million this year. We are still saying no compulsory redundancies but we are talking about early retirements and have built in incentive schemes for voluntary redundancies. We are talking about more than 100 jobs going."
But he said the restructuring was a positive move designed to relieve academics of administrative burdens, give students a wider choice of interdisciplinary programmes and boost research.
Harry Lewis, president of the Association of University Teachers, at Leeds, said staff remained unconvinced.
"We don't believe much administration can be devolved away from departments because a lot of administration is based around teaching," he said.
Birmingham is also forecasting job losses as part of a restructuring to save Pounds 300,000 a year. It plans to introduce a central office of administration for its seven faculties. A spokesman said: "We are planning for the best administration the university can afford." Bradford is consulting on restructuring.