'Voluntary' staff cuts to decimate Coventry wage bill

May 27, 2005

Scores of staff at Coventry University face voluntary redundancy in a major "reshaping" exercise. The institution will also axe its pure chemistry provision.

Madeleine Atkins, Coventry's vice-chancellor, said she was optimistic that all the redundancies would be voluntary but she could not guarantee it. A university-wide voluntary severance scheme ends on June 30.

The exercise aims to cut Coventry's wage bill by 10 per cent, reverse the decline in home student numbers and focus on applied research and knowledge transfer.

Professor Atkins said the changes were part of a "positioning exercise in a stratified sector" and all the university's six schools were involved to some extent. A £12 million investment is planned over the next two years to support the changes.

"It's a reshaping exercise, not just a cutting one. The point is that we shift our provision to areas that are right for the next five to ten years," Professor Atkins said.

Course changes include scrapping pure chemistry in favour of more applied courses in pharmaceutical chemistry and chemistry and forensics, planned for 2006.

Professor Atkins said: "Student demand has been falling steadily in chemistry, which is a national trend, and from our perspective it makes more sense to build degrees with an applied focus.

Other new programmes include animation and creative computing, creative industries management and lifestyle management.

The university is currently consulting with staff unions.

A spokesperson for lecturers' union Natfhe said morale was low and staff feared that course changes and reduced numbers would mean increased workloads.

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