The University of Liverpool has announced plans to axe more than 200 academic jobs.
The institution said that allowing in excess of 220 academics to leave under a voluntary redundancy scheme would enable it to “increase the pace of the improvements already taking place”.
“This will include reshaping our academic staffing profile, enabled by the launch of a voluntary severance scheme for academic staff, and making substantial investment in teaching and research priorities,” a University of Liverpool spokesman said.
“We aim to allow more than 220 to leave through the scheme. In turn, the initiative will enable us to invest in key areas and support colleagues across the university in accelerating improvements in the quality of our research and teaching.”
However, the University and College Union questioned whether cutting jobs was the best way to deliver improvements.
“We are unconvinced that getting rid of over 200 valuable and experienced teaching and research staff is the best approach to try and improve rankings for teaching and research,” said Martyn Moss, the UCU regional official. “The university talks about improving the student experience. While universities may be obsessed with rankings, student surveys tell us that students want to see investment in staff and teaching to improve their experience.
“Any sensible university planning for the future would properly consult with its staff and students before making any kind of changes.”
News of the Liverpool redundancy programme came to light as more details emerged about cuts at the Open University, which were first announced last year. The distance-learning institution, which is looking to cut £100 million from its £420 million annual budget, has opened a voluntary redundancy programme.
The Guardian reported that internal documents suggested that the OU was considering closing 41 undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses, leaving 71 available. The overall reduction in the number of courses, qualifications and modules on offer would be more than a third of the current total, the newspaper said.
UCU regional official Lydia Richards said the proposals “would destroy the Open University as we know it, turning it from an innovative, world-leading distance-education university into a digital content provider”.
“We want a halt to the cuts and a full investigation into how these proposals have been arrived at,” she added. “We have no confidence that there has been proper scrutiny in developing these plans.”
An OU spokesman said that the university “must change to deliver its core mission of supporting students from all backgrounds to fulfil their potential through education and to equip them for a fast-evolving world”.
“We are working closely with our academics to deliver this ambitious programme and focus on areas which deliver greatest benefit to our students,” he said.
“We understand that the changes are creating uncertainty and are working as swiftly as possible with colleagues to finalise our plans. Once approved by the university's governing bodies, our people will be the first to know.”