The vice-chancellor of Glyndwr University has suffered a unanimous vote of no confidence from the institution’s union branch following proposals that would make almost one in 10 staff redundant.
Michael Scott has also been blamed by the union for running up a deficit of close to £4 million in 2012‑13, which according Glyndwr’s most recent accounts amounts to 9 per cent of its total income.
Glyndwr’s University and College Union branch passed the no-confidence motion at a meeting on 17 February.
The motion said that the union held Professor Scott “directly responsible” for the “current financial circumstances at the university” and added that his “current actions are bringing the university into disrepute”. According to a UCU statement, staff were informed on 12 February that 65 as yet unidentified employees, including 25 academics, were under threat of redundancy.
The union told Times Higher Education that the plans were not “coherent or a solution to the university’s difficulties” and that it intended to propose an alternative.
A Glyndwr spokesman claimed that the union had balloted its members on the proposals before conducting a “proper examination” of them.
Although the university accounts show that Glyndwr’s expenditure rose only slightly in 2012-13, its income fell by £4.4 million as overall student numbers dropped by 8 per cent, triggering a recruitment freeze in all but “key strategic areas”.
Glyndwr has also set its tuition fees at £6,643 – whereas all other Welsh universities opted for fees above £8,500 – meaning that an increase in tuition fee funding in 2012-13 has not compensated for a big cut in central teaching grant. However, UK and European Union student numbers were up 40 per cent in 2013, the accounts add.
One financial success during the year was Glyndwr’s London campus, the accounts say, which turned a profit of £781,000 that has been returned to the Wrexham-based parent institution. Yet the accounts also say that Glyndwr faces a claim for £3.8 million from the previous owners of the London campus “arising from an agreement for services”.
There is “insufficient evidence” to come to an “accurate conclusion” on the university’s liabilities, the accounts say, although Glyndwr has put in a £3.9 million counterclaim and the board of governors considers the previous owners’ claim to be “without merit”.
The accounts also reveal that Optic Glyndwr, one of the university’s subsidiary companies, made a £900,000 loss during 2012-13.
Last month it emerged that Glyndwr had withdrawn visa sponsorship from a number of its international students based in London, who were being taught by the London School of Business and Finance.
About 60 students have contested this decision through the courts. In an order circulated last week, the High Court accepted that for 23 of them, there may be an “arguable case” that the university “did not act fairly” by giving students “limited opportunity” to make representations about their sponsorship.
The university has withdrawn its revocation of sponsorship for these students and invited them to a further interview. But the court threw out the claims of the remaining 33 students because of their low attendance record and ordered them to pay £500 in costs each.