Queen’s to cut almost 240 jobs and hundreds of student places

Plans to axe 236 jobs and reduce student numbers by more than 1,000 have been announced by Queen’s University Belfast

April 14, 2015

The institution said the cuts had been forced on it by a reduction in its funding from Northern Ireland’s Department of Employment and Learning which is expected to amount to approximately £8 million in 2015-16.

At a meeting on 14 April, the Queen’s senate agreed to launch a voluntary redundancy scheme, with the aim of reducing the university’s headcount by 236 by this December. The university said it was too early to say whether compulsory redundancies would be required.

The student intake will be reduced by 1,010 over the next three years, starting with a reduction of 290 this autumn. Applicants who have received an offer from Queen’s and who achieve their grades will still have a place, but candidates who fall short of expectations are unlikely to be admitted.

The subsequent reduction in tuition fee income is expected to cost the university a further £3.7 million.

In addition, Patrick Johnston, the vice-chancellor, will lead a strategic review tasked with deciding which academic programmes should continue and which should be closed.

With Ulster University also facing significant funding cuts, Professor Johnston said that these were “really serious times” for Northern Ireland’s universities.

Some observers have called for tuition fees to be raised to £9,000 and Professor Johnston said a “serious conversation” about funding was needed. Support for universities was proportionately 18 per cent lower in Northern Ireland than in England, and 12 per cent lower than in Scotland, according to the vice-chancellor.

“If we continue to absorb cuts without any impact in terms of what we do, we will destroy the quality and reputation of both universities and in particular of Queen’s,” he said.

“My message is that we need to start a very serious conversation about funding higher education properly and start it quickly because…Queen’s has now come to a very important inflection point in its history. It is no longer being supported by the public purse to the level that it needs and therefore we have to become masters of our own destiny; we can no longer rely on government to fund us.”

Queen’s, which is a member of the Russell Group of research intensive universities, had already had its funding cut by 16 per cent over four years.

Ulster University is also expected to cut student numbers, but is yet to confirm its plans. Earlier this year it said it would shut a number of undergraduate courses in response to the funding cuts.

A DEL spokeswoman said the department had “made internal efficiencies and ceased any unjustifiable subsidies” but still faced an “unprecedented” 12.4 per cent cut in its budget for 2015-16.

“It is a regrettable situation that our universities are contracting at a time when we should be investing more in them to ensure a steady supply of highly skilled individuals for current and future potential employers,” she said.

“Recognising the economic and social importance of investing in skills, it is the intention of the department and the minister to achieve a sustainable funding model going forward.” 

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

How does it feel like being an academic in the UK these days? https://fanismissirlis.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/academicslaughteruk/

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham