Academics at King’s College London are to ballot for strike action over redundancy plans in three health schools.
The institution wants to cut up to 120 jobs across the schools in order to fund building work, unions claim. Staff that do not meet a threshold value for research income or teach fewer than a specified number of hours will be at risk.
The King’s College branch of the University and College Union says that the measures are causing “profound anxiety and anger” among staff and “demonstrate an alarming disregard for people”. King’s College hopes to cut its academic staffing bill by 10 per cent in the schools of medicine and biomedical sciences and the Institute of Psychiatry.
Documents seen by the British Medical Association suggest that lecturers who cannot prove £40,000 of grant income, and professors £150,000, since 2012 will be put at threat of redundancy, as will those on teaching contracts of fewer than 100 contact hours a year in medicine and biomedical sciences, and 75 hours at the Institute of Psychiatry. Redundancies are earmarked for mid-August and a ballot for strike action is due to take place on 6 June.
Jim Wolfreys, president of the King’s College UCU, said that staff are “shocked” by the proposals. “It signals a shift in priorities away from teaching and research towards infrastructure,” he said. “Staff are to be targeted for redundancy on the basis of crude measures of research grant income and teaching hours, imposed without warning.”
A spokesman for King’s College said: “We have ambitious plans to enhance our position as a world-leading university and to meet these objectives we strive for academic excellence and strong performance across all areas, as well as effective management of our costs.
“In this climate we need a robust strategy for business as usual and in order to make our ambitions a reality. All parts of the college are looking at how they can increase income, control costs and collectively raise performance.”
An online petition started by students in the health schools had almost 500 signatures by the time Times Higher Education went to press.