Union blames 'miscalculation' as axe hangs over 35 jobs

June 30, 2006

Business and languages lecturers at Liverpool John Moores University are threatening industrial action over plans to axe 35 jobs.

The university issued a statement last Friday announcing the cuts as part of a "restructuring". A number of courses, formerly in the schools of languages and business information, would be withdrawn "with immediate effect".

University and College Union representatives said the news was a "devastating blow" to staff, who had not been consulted.

The union claimed that university heads had underestimated the number of staff they needed to teach the affected courses because they had been relying on data stored in a "flawed" computer system. John Middleton, LJMU UCU president, said the calculation failed to take account of the number of lecturers required to take classes for modules in disciplines outside their school.

He said: "The university has got its sums wrong and needs to go back to the drawing board."

The university denied miscalculating, after carrying out an investigation requested by the UCU. It also refused to rescind letters sent to prospective students telling them their places no long existed.

A spokesman said: "Applicants who have applied to join withdrawn courses have been offered alternative courses or have been advised on comparable courses offered by institutions throughout the North West."

The UCU was due to consider balloting for industrial action as The Times Higher went to press.

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