In a statement released on 18 June, the university’s acting vice-chancellor Alastair Adair said that the job losses are necessary because Ulster finds itself in a “difficult position, requiring thorough consideration and tough decisions in response to the budget cuts in higher education”.
“We will be required to cut in the region of 1,200 student places and, potentially, 210 staff posts,” he said.
The areas in which student places and staff numbers would be lost had not yet been finalised, said Professor Adair, who promised that to “ensure that our staff remain fully informed and involved in the process”.
He also warned that the cuts are likely to have a “potential longer term impact” to the skills base in Northern Ireland, the development of which “is so vital to the knowledge economy and to local and global potential".
The cost-cutting measures follow a reduction in support from the Department of Employment and Learning that is expected to amount to about £8 million in 2015-16.
Senior university leaders have complained that higher education has borne the brunt of spending cuts in the province as Stormont’s power-sharing executive has been unable to reach a decision on implementing welfare reforms.
Austerity had been displaced on to sectors such as higher education as a result, it has been argued.
Patrick Johnston, the vice-chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, told Times Higher Education that the Stormont executive needed to consider increasing tuition fees or boosting public funding after his institution announced plans to cut 236 jobs and reduce student numbers by 1,010 in light of the austerity measures.
The staffing changes at Queen's will be carried out by December, with compulsory redundancies a possibility if voluntary reductions cannot be made, while the student intake reduction will take place over three years, starting with a reduction of 290 this autumn.