The University of Wolverhampton is planning to make up to 19 professors redundant in areas deemed to have performed below standard in the research excellence framework.
The University and College Union has called the plans, which sparked a lobby of the university’s governors, “an illegitimate attempt to target individuals that is being rushed through without significant scrutiny”.
The move was announced to professors on 19 May and those selected for redundancy would leave at the end of July, according to the union.
The move affects up to 19 professors in computing, engineering, built environment and law, which, according to the UCU, is nearly a third of the university’s total 63 research professors.
Wolverhampton was ranked 82nd out of 128 institutions on research power in the 2014 REF, showing little change from its 84th placing in the 2008 research assessment exercise.
The Wolverhampton UCU branch says on its website that the university’s “Professoriate capacity restructure” paper “states that, following the REF results, up to 19 professors” in the four subject areas “will be made redundant by the end of July 2015, as their units of assessments have been deemed under-performing”.
Geoff Layer, Wolverhampton vice-chancellor, said: “Following substantial investment over recent years, the university’s research was rated in the UK research excellence framework in 2014 at its highest ever level, with all of its submitted subject areas having elements which were world leading.”
He continued: “We are now looking forward to how we can further develop our academic capacity over the next five years and continually improve the quality of our research activities. As part of this we are reshaping our approach by, reducing investment in some areas as well as creating new areas of academic growth and research.”
Professor Layer said that while “a small number of staff” would leave, the university was “not reducing the numbers of academic staff we employ” and it would instead be “refocusing and reducing staff numbers in some areas of activity whilst growing in other areas”.