V-c under fire over job losses

September 26, 2003

The vice-chancellor of Sunderland University was under renewed pressure to resign this week after protests against his plans to cut jobs.

The university has been hit hard by a loss of research funding and says it needs to axe 47 posts. It has refused to rule out compulsory redundancies, and the local branch of lecturers' union Natfhe has called for vice-chancellor Peter Fidler and pro vice-chancellors to resign.

Staff have been asked to take part in a skills audit, which one lecturer described as "digging your own grave".

Natfhe said that conducting a skills audit was "very unfortunate" at a time of threatened compulsory redundancies. "There is a palpable climate of fearI as we are all effectively being told to reapply for our own jobs," said the lecturer who asked to remain anonymous.

A university spokesperson said 11 full-time posts still needed to be cut to save about £350,000. "We have to make provision for compulsory severance, although we continue to seekI reductions through voluntary measures," the spokesperson said.

"It is unfortunate that Natfhe has chosen to make this statement at a time when consultation on the process is still under way."

Sunderland's research budget was cut by 43.4 per cent for 2003-04, leaving its overall settlement only just above inflation.

Natfhe is considering taking industrial action against the job losses because it believes the university has mismanaged its finances.

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