UCU condemns ‘unsettling’ role-matching test

Union passes motion of no confidence in University of Northampton’s restructuring exercise

July 4, 2013

The University of Northampton’s branch of the University and College Union has passed a motion of no confidence in a restructuring exercise that it said has caused needless anxiety and could result in individuals being forced out.

In May, Northampton’s School of the Arts carried out a “role-matching” exercise that compared the roles its staff currently perform with those it believes it needs. According to a letter sent to the school’s staff, if an academic’s current role is less than a 60 per cent match with the envisaged new role, “a further exercise will be required to reaffirm that an employee has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the [new] duties”.

The letter states that “no employees [are] being placed at risk of redundancy as a result of the role-matching exercise”. However, a flow chart prepared by the school lists “redundancy procedure” as the result of a failed appeal.

Ron Mendel, the UCU branch secretary, noted that the new staffing structure required fewer specialists in certain areas. He also claimed that at least three academics had been approached by their line managers before the role-matching exercise began and advised to seek voluntary severance. This heightened the union’s fear that the exercise could “open the door” to the targeting of particular individuals for redundancy, particularly among the school’s 32 senior lecturers, none of whom had met the threshold.

He said the figure was so high because the school had used outdated job descriptions for current roles that did not fully capture the levels of responsibility that many senior lecturers had already adopted.

The school agreed to invite those below the threshold to make their cases at a further “mapping exercise”. So far, 17 of the 20 senior lecturers who have taken this route have been successful. However, the no-confidence motion, passed unanimously by the school’s 40 UCU members on 19 June, objects that the exercise “implicitly expects academic staff to (re)apply for their positions”.

Dr Mendel said this had left staff feeling “anxious and insecure” even though most of them would probably retain their positions. He said the union accepted the principle of role matching, but the motion calls for it to be paused until the concerns about its implementation are met.

Northampton declined to comment.

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate