Scholars bear brunt of cash-saving plans

Job losses expected across all faculties as London Metropolitan bids to save £7m. Jack Grove writes

January 19, 2012

More than 200 academics will be made redundant at London Metropolitan University under plans to save £7 million.

In an email sent to all staff last week, Peter McCaffery, deputy vice-chancellor, said the university had started a 90-day consultation over the proposed job losses, which equated to 229 posts.

Of the redundancies, 201 will be academics and the remainder will be those in clerical, managerial or technician roles. Half will be staff employed on an hourly basis and half on full-time contracts.

All faculties will be included in the latest round of redundancies and no indication has been given as to where the axe will fall most heavily.

The job losses, which equated to about 12 per cent of all academic staff, follow the decision to cut the number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses on offer in 2012-13 by 70 and 40 per cent respectively, said Dr McCaffery.

Course fees this autumn will also be as low as £4,500 a year as a response to funding changes by the coalition government.

"The impetus is to secure our future financial sustainability," Dr McCaffery told Times Higher Education.

"We have streamlined our undergraduate and postgraduate portfolio - there are efficiency savings to be made there."

He also identified an excessive number of academic leaders within the institution, leading to "duplication" of roles.

"We have deans, associate deans, academic leaders and principal lecturers - most other universities have three tiers."

News of the redundancies followed the announcement this month that London Met is looking to cut administration costs by 40 to 50 per cent over the next five years by sharing services with other universities.

Malcolm Gillies, the vice-chancellor, admitted that this would result in job losses but believed the move would reduce costs and offer students better value for money.

Cliff Snaith, the University and College Union branch secretary at London Met, said he was "absolutely appalled by both the process and the decision [to cut jobs] itself".

"We only got the notification [of redundancies] 30 minutes before the email was sent out," he said.

"It is incredibly demoralising for staff who have gone through this process already.

"It will be the third time for some people. There has been no sense of job stability over the past three years.

"We can't see how they have reached this latest figure [for redundancies].

"The university claims it will be a teaching-intensive university, so surely they need teachers."

He added that 250 staff had already left London Met since August 2011, while a further 50 voluntary redundancies had been recently agreed.

Max Watson, chair of Unison's London Met branch, said: "This latest bombshell is yet another blow to staff morale, just when we thought it couldn't sink any lower."

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