Service point made as De Montfort announces support cuts

About 190 support-staff jobs are at risk at De Montfort University, prompting warnings that students will shun institutions seen as having “cheap and cheerful” support services.

The university has sent campus unions a redundancy notice stating that up to 193 support jobs are at risk, with the number of proposed redundancies standing at 80.

The news follows London Metropolitan University’s announcement this week that up to 86 support posts face “deletion” as part of plans to cut costs.

Jon Richards, head of education for Unison, said: “If higher education institutions think that cutting support staff is an easy option then they are sadly mistaken. It will mean more work for academics and a poorer service for students.

“As fees rise, students will expect improved resources: better library, information and guidance services; improved pastoral care in a secure environment; and quality catering and cleaning. Students looking at cheap and cheerful, poorly resourced institutions may decide to spend their £9,000 a year elsewhere.”

A De Montfort spokeswoman said restructuring was “essential in order to ensure a vibrant future for the university”.

She added that “reviews have created a number of vacant posts, which, in addition to the vacant posts retained through effective vacancy management, will be ring-fenced for staff at risk of redundancy to apply for. In aggregate, the number of vacant posts exceeds the number of proposed redundancies, therefore our executive board are very confident that the majority of staff will be redeployed to alternative posts.”

Alan Ryan, spokesman for De Montfort’s University and College Union branch, says in an email to members: “Although the large majority of UCU members do not fall into the ‘at-risk’ category, we are obviously concerned by the impact of both structural changes and potential redundancies…on our members, and in particular about maintaining the level of service expected by both staff and students.”

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