Protests as Kent says goodbye to 'weakest links'

March 11, 2010

The University of Kent is making up to 11 academics compulsorily redundant, including four professors in its School of Biosciences, on the grounds that their research and teaching performance is not up to scratch.

Last summer, Kent carried out a review of the school, which performed badly in the 2008 research assessment exercise but well in the National Student Survey.

The review concluded that the best way to improve its "research capacity" was to make "cost savings" that could be reinvested in the appointment of research-active staff.

Managers assessed the research and teaching activities of the school's 32 academics and put 11 at risk of redundancy. Six scholars are being transferred to teaching-only duties while 12 will focus on research.

One academic whose job is at risk after a low score in the "competency exercise" said he had published more than 50 papers in 10 years and had earned the university more than £1 million in research income.

The University and College Union voted to ballot for strike action unless the threat of redundancy was withdrawn.

The proposals "strike at the bond between teaching and research, which lies at the heart of a true university", the UCU says in a memo to staff.

A Kent spokesman said the scoring mechanism and individual contributions had been discussed with staff "individually and collectively" and the UCU.

"We have identified some staff for whom we can currently find no role within the school," he said, although he added that redundancy would be a last resort.

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