Strike looms over Liverpool redundancy plans

May 8, 2008

Liverpool Hope University is facing the prospect of industrial action over threatened compulsory redundancies.

Seven out of 16 academic jobs, and one of two IT technicians, are to be lost by the computing department amid falling student numbers.

The local branch of the University and College Union carried out an "indicative" ballot of its members this month, which confirmed support for taking action over the cuts.

In a circular to staff, the UCU blamed a "catastrophic" fall in student numbers on the university's decision to raise its undergraduate entry requirements and to increase postgraduate fees.

"Undergraduate numbers have fallen by about 100 (full-time students) - 30 per cent - since 2002-03, while the postgraduate numbers have fallen by about 200 students - around 90 per cent - in the same period," the circular said.

Postgraduate fees increased from £3,000 in 2003 to £8,100 in 2007, the circular added. "The increase in published entrance points required by Hope for UG courses from 160 in 2003 to 260 in 2008 has affected and will continue to affect applications from prospective students," the union added.

The union has also accused the university of poor workforce planning with respect to the Business and Computing Deanery, which has a deficit of about £750,000 and which hired four new academics shortly before deciding the deanery was "overstaffed".

A university spokesman said the fall in applications to computing was consistent with national trends. "The university has seen robust recruitment in all but two academic disciplines in recent years and the low student-staff ratio in computing is resulting in higher SSRs in subjects that have seen significant growth."

He added: "The university has adjusted all of its postgraduate fees for overseas students to be in line with the UK averages. There is no evidence from the market that the increase in postgraduate overseas fees has negatively impacted on the domestic undergraduate student numbers."

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