Southampton recruits chauffeur while academic jobs under threat

UCU says move will 'raise further questions about the priorities of senior managers'

November 20, 2017

The University of Southampton has come under fire after posting an advertisement for a campus chauffeur just days after it announced plans to cut up to 75 academic jobs.

The advert, on the university's website, seeks a chauffeur caretaker to run a “chauffeur and car service to executives and visiting dignitaries”, including the vice-chancellor, Sir Christopher Snowden. Applicants for the part-time role are required to work “flexibly” and ascertain a “high level of confidentiality".

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, called the advert “insulting” at a time when the university was seeking to reduce its academic workforce by between 50 and 75 posts.

“For years UCU has been highlighting how out of touch vice-chancellors look when it comes to their own pay and perks,” she said.

“They are happy to keep down staff pay and conditions yet see nothing wrong with accepting inflation-busting pay rises and all the perks. Advertising for a chauffeur for the executives while threatening to axe as many as 75 academic posts is insulting and shows contempt for the staff.

"This move will, understandably, raise further questions about the priorities of the senior managers at Southampton.”

Six subject areas have been targeted for job cuts – English, law, chemistry, music, tribology and social sciences. Staff and students were also told on 13 November that Southampton will move from eight to five faculties.

A university spokesman told Times Higher Education: “The advertisement is one of many that have been processed this week. It’s for an existing role and is seeking a replacement for a colleague who is retiring.

“The role is for a member of our estates team to serve part-time in a caretaking role and part-time as chauffeur for a university pool car used by visitors and senior members of staff, including the vice-chancellor (a minority user of this service), so they can work while in transit. The driver also has another job within the university. The vehicle is only used in the context of work-related travel.”

He added that the post is “not a personal chauffeur or ‘v-c chauffeur’, as he does not have first call on the use of the vehicle and does not make use of the car privately...The vice-chancellor travels to and from work in his own car for which he pays the university parking charge”.

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Reader's comments (1)

Standard response matches exactly whats in the local paper. The headline 50-75 Academic jobs is but the tip of the iceberg, local estimates are 300-500 jobs in total once all the 'support roles' that will no longer be required also go...

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