Research staff hit by shift to teaching

August 19, 2005

Nottingham Trent University is losing researchers as it pushes ahead with a teaching-dominated strategic plan that has sapped staff confidence, leaders of lecturers' union Natfhe claim.

Arts, humanities, science and business studies departments have been hit by the loss of professors and research-team members disenchanted with Nottingham Trent's shift from research.

Natfhe says that the university failed to consult on restructuring of departments, the introduction of a new layer of management and a centralised system of managing the teaching load that has led to "timetable chaos".

Colin Bryson, Natfhe branch secretary at Nottingham Trent, said many staff had been made redundant or demoted as the university moved to focus on teaching only. "What has shocked us is that many of the people they have targeted are leading researchers. About five professors have gone because they feel there is no longer any future for research here," he said.

Union concerns are supported by the findings of an employee survey for the university by polling firm MORI. The survey echoes staff discontent recorded in a similar poll two years ago.

This year's survey found that only one in six of Nottingham Trent's employees has confidence in the university's senior management team and a third feels that management has "a clear vision of where NTU is going".

More than half of staff disagreed and a third strongly disagreed that change within the university over the past 12 months has had a positive impact on their working lives.

Nearly half the staff surveyed felt information from Nottingham Trent could not be believed. A fifth thought communications were open and honest.

About one in seven members of staff thought senior management was interested in their opinion, which Natfhe said supported its claim that there had been no feedback on the strategic plan. A separate question asked staff whether they thought their views could influence decisions - roughly one in eight believed they could.

A university spokeswoman said: "In the past year some long-serving professors have left, but Nottingham Trent has continued to invest in key areas, including bioscience and social sciences.

"The university has a strong commitment to an active research culture and will continue to invest in key appointments to achieve sustainable growth, in both the quality and volume of research."

tony.tysome@thes.co.uk

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