Redundancy fear

March 17, 2000

Twelve of the 90 staff in the University of Central England's faculty of the built environment face redundancy because of falling student numbers and projected deficits, writes Harriet Swain.

University and college lecturers' union Natfhe has proposed to ballot at the end of the month for industrial action should compulsory redundancies go ahead.

The union argues that the university should be able to meet the faculty's Pounds 200,000-Pounds 250,000 shortfall from its reserves and says the decline in student numbers could be temporary.

Chris May, Natfhe regional support officer in the Midlands, said: "There is overwhelming evidence that says job availability in the building trades has increased dramatically." He warned that the university could later find itself short of staff if it makes the redundancies.

Peter Knight, UCE vice-chancellor, said there had been a "significant and sustained" reduction in the number of full-time undergraduate students recruited to the faculty, mirroring exactly the decline in applications nationally.

Student numbers have fallen by about 400 in the past four years to around 1,300.

He said if there were insufficient volunteers then compulsory redundancies would be necessary.

Talk of industrial action was "unwarranted and irresponsible", he said.

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