Reading plans restructure

Institution may create three overarching faculties to concentrate strengths and cut costs. Hannah Fearn reports

September 11, 2009

Restructuring plans have been announced by the University of Reading, where three large faculties may be created to cover all its academic schools.

The move, which would lead to some job losses, forms part of a plan to cut costs in areas of “less academic strength” while committing to growth in stronger areas.

The changes have been proposed to deliver net budget savings of 4 per cent required over the next five years.

The plans, which were unveiled to staff this week, call for a faculty of science, a faculty of humanities, arts and social sciences, and Henley Business School.

Tony Downes, deputy vice-chancellor of Reading, said the university was facing challenging times, “like every other higher education institution”.

“Proposals under discussion include a restructuring of the institution to create large academic units, which would make the university more effective as an organisation and ensure we are well placed to compete for research funding in the future,” he said.

The plans will be discussed by a series of working groups, in consultation with staff.

As part of the restructure, the department of film, theatre and television could lose one third of its staff, with five posts out of 15 under threat.

The department will soon move from Reading’s Bulmershe campus to a £11.5 million development on its main campus as part of a redevelopment programme costing £250 million.

A member of academic staff, who asked to remain anonymous, said the university was trying to squeeze all of its activity on to one site. “Some of us think Reading might do better to invest more in its people and a bit less in its buildings – all of which strive to confirm its reputation for ugliness and eat away a bit more at our main asset, a nice parkland campus.”

Ian Bland, secretary of the Reading branch of the University and College Union, said it would fight the cuts to the department of film, theatre and television, “especially if… staff from other disciplines are asked to teach the courses”.

“While we obviously welcome investment in buildings and facilities, members have expressed their understandable consternation at this ongoing development programme when academic and support jobs are at risk,” he added.

A spokesman for the university said the possible redundancies in the film department were not related to the move to new facilities.

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