Unit closure is a 'slap in the face' for expert staff

November 18, 2010

A centre that supports students at London Metropolitan University is to shut under plans to cut 44 posts.

London Met has announced its intention to close the Learning Development Unit, which helps students with study skills, academic literacy, maths and basic IT.

The university's Write Now Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, which works to improve students' academic writing, will also close.

The redundancies will hit: the university's information systems and services; the Faculty of Computing; the Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Languages and Education; and the Centre for Academic Professional Development.

A report on the outcome of a review of the future of London Met's educational and learning development services argues that student learning development "should primarily be embedded within faculties". All nine senior lecturer posts in the Learning Development Unit will be "deleted", it says.

Staff at the unit include Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield, authors of the well-known textbooks Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University, which is soon to enter a third edition, and Teaching, Learning and Study Skills: A Guide for Tutors.

A former London Met student told Times Higher Education that the unit's work "changes students' lives".

A spokeswoman for the university said the redundancies were not a response to public funding cuts but arose from a variety of longer-standing issues including withdrawal of external funding, "accomplished workflow reorganisation, follow-through from the cost improvement plan and changes in technology that the university needs to implement".

A spokesman for London Met's University and College Union branch said the UCU "totally rejects" the need for redundancies. "Staff want a positive and viable way ahead for London Met. Many have put trust in a new management that at first appeared to recognise their value and respond to the needs of London Met students," he said.

"Dismissal of expert staff with acknowledged expertise in learning development and in early years teaching is a slap in their faces."

Malcolm Gillies, London Met's vice-chancellor, is due to give a speech on the university's future on 22 November.

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com.

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