UEL weighs up recovery plans

November 16, 2001

The University of East London may shut two of its three campuses as part of a recovery plan ordered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

A radical estates strategy could see the university closing its Barking and Stratford campuses while developing its presence in Docklands.

Property consultant GVA Grimley has produced a report detailing four options. The other alternatives are to carry on as at present; to scale down and refurbish the existing estate; and to close the Barking campus but keep Stratford.

The report says that to keep the estate as it is would cost the university £72 million over the next 25 years.

It adds that if campuses were closed, some presence will be maintained in outer East London to meet the needs of the catchment area.

Michael Thorne, UEL's new vice-chancellor, said that management had met this week to consider the options.

"No option is yet excluded or included," he said. "There may be options that we believe should be considered that GVA Grimley has not looked at."

He added that UEL had been rationalising its estate since the flagship Docklands campus opened "to bring the remaining space down to a sensible total".

Local representatives of lecturers' union Natfhe are concerned about job security, terms and conditions associated with any move, and facilities, such as creche provision, at alternative campuses.

In a message to members, the local branch says: "Many staff will be concerned about the potential impact of a revised estates strategy. Some of the options proposed would involve the significant redeployment of staff, which will have an impact on both the working and personal lives of staff."

UEL has to let Hefce know its intentions by the end of January. It was originally due to report back by December 4 but has successfully applied for an extension.

The university was ordered to produce a recovery plan earlier this year after predicting a serious funding gap. It expects a deficit of £2 million in the current financial year.

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