The cost of the credit crunch mounts: a round-up of university budget-cutting efforts

May 21, 2009

The vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey has blamed a "perverse" research assessment exercise result for forcing him to make 65 job cuts. The university is to implement a voluntary severance scheme at enhanced rates, but compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out.

Christopher Snowdon says in an email: "The financial effect of the RAE was perverse, with our most successful departments ... losing significant sums. Growth in our income from research grants and contracts is not keeping pace with our expectations or needs. Growth in our student income from home undergraduates is capped by government policy.

"We expect to reduce academic activity in some areas to concentrate on those that can achieve the financial viability and academic quality on which our future depends."

At the University of Bolton, staff have voted overwhelmingly for a pay rise despite the vice-chancellor, George Holmes, warning that it could lead to job losses. Bolton had withheld 2.5 per cent of the 5 per cent pay rise owed to staff since last autumn under a three-year national pay deal. Four fifths of respondents to a university consultation voted for the rise.

The University of Warwick has introduced an unpaid career break scheme, an option for staff to "buy" additional annual leave and an enhanced voluntary redundancy package in a bid to reduce staff costs.

All departments at the university have been asked to reduce costs by about 5 per cent to save £12 million from the next financial year. Nigel Thrift, the vice-chancellor, said: "It is clear that in some areas it will be necessary for us to consider reducing staffing costs."

The University of Gloucestershire has said that it will have to make some staff compulsorily redundant because insufficient numbers joined a voluntary scheme. The scheme, announced in March, aimed to save £5 million.

The University of Chichester is to close its youth and community work degree. Chichester said the move would affect five academic and support staff.

Lecturers and students at the University of Strathclyde held a protest on 8 May against plans to merge the faculties of education and of law, arts and social sciences. The university has said the plan will not mean a reduction in posts. It has already announced plans for a voluntary redundancy scheme under which 140 posts are expected to go.

Leeds Metropolitan University has announced job cuts and has divested itself of its controlling share in the Leeds Carnegie rugby club.

Two years into a ten-year deal, the university has returned its 51 per cent stake to Leeds Rugby. The controversial tie-up was one of the key achievements for the university's former vice-chancellor, Simon Lee. But in 2007-08 the club was relegated from the Guinness Premiership, leaving the university with a bill of £1.1 million.

The divestment announcement came hours after Geoff Hitchins, Leeds Met's acting vice-chancellor, told staff that the university was aiming to reduce its pay spend from 63 per cent of turnover to 60 per cent.

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