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Struggling UK universities warn workforce of possible activity cuts

July 12, 2019

Universities are warning staff to prepare for redundancies within the new 12 months due to deteriorating balance sheets and lowered forecasts for pupil recruitment, coupled with the uncertainty of Brexit and unexpected shifts in authorities coverage.

In recent days extra than half of a dozen universities have told body of workers there will be processed cuts in 2019, together with individuals of the studies-in depth Russell Group including Cardiff University, even as others are privately bracing for cuts later inside the year.

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Universities are in the midst of reporting their financial consequences for 2017-18 and are monitoring pupil applications coming in for the subsequent year. Several were alarmed with the aid of the projections they’re seeing before a 15 January cut-off date for undergraduates.
Insiders say universities are much more likely to reduce team of workers due to a number of different threats within the subsequent one year, including the potential impact on global college students of a no-deal Brexit, as well as cuts to training expenses in England due to a overview of investment ordered by using Theresa May so that it will document early subsequent 12 months.

“Knee-jerk cuts to workforce will harm universities’ potential to supply tremendous teaching and studies and provide the assist students want. Staff is already overstretched and asking individuals who continue to be to do even more isn’t always a sustainable strategy,” stated Matt Waddup, head of coverage for the University and College Union (UCU).

“Students repeatedly say they want the greater investment of their team of workers as a top priority, but the proportion of expenditure spent on a team of workers has fallen. Cutting staff will ship out completely the incorrect signal to ability students. Axing educators are obscene at any time, not to mention at some point of the current uncertainty whilst we want our universities firing on all cylinders.”

Among the group of universities which have gone public, the University of Reading informed workforce in an e-mail on Monday nighttime that a voluntary redundancy scheme was being drawn up and could open in January.

“I want to emphasize that voluntary redundancies are handiest one tool to be had to us,” wrote Prof Robert Van de Noort, the appearing vice-chancellor, suggesting that personnel need to don’t forget early retirement, reduced hours or modifications to contracts to help to keep away from compulsory redundancies.

Reading’s accounts, posted some days in the past, reveal that the university made a £20m loss for the economic year, which include a £27m loss on its subsidiary in Malaysia. Reading’s complete profits turned into handiest added into the fantastic territory by way of £36m of pension “remeasurement gains”.

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Van de Noort instructed a group of workers: “There is no doubt that the year ahead can be hard at times, however, I am assured that as a university network we can cope with those problems and stay a pacesetter in coaching and studies within the UK and globally.”
Despite Reading’s deficit, the preceding vice-chancellor, Sir David Bell, saw his overall pay upward push by £10,000 to £329,000. Bell introduced his departure this 12 months and is now vice-chancellor of the University of Sunderland.

At Cardiff, the vice-chancellor, Colin Riordan, has also written to workforce telling them they will be supplied voluntary redundancy from January. The college has stated obligatory team of workers cuts “can’t be ruled out”.

In a joint declaration, the Cardiff University branches of the Unite, Unison and UCU unions stated: “We are astonished that Cardiff University body of workers are going through their third voluntary severance scheme in six years, and we are very involved that the vice-chancellor still refuses to rule out further compulsory redundancies.”

At the University of Gloucestershire, based totally in Cheltenham, unions say they had been suggested of extra than a hundred job cuts and other redundancies due to what the college knew as a “rebalancing” in hard conditions.

“There is a demographic fall within the range of 18-year-olds in the population, that’s affecting call for higher schooling, the level of tuition fees universities are accepted to rate domestic undergraduate college students is capped by way of the government, and there’s growing competition for recruitment,” the university stated.

“At the identical time, we’re facing huge increases in the number of our expenses, in particular, outside will increase in what we’re required to spend on a group of workers pensions. The combined impact of those elements is that is not unusual with many other universities, our expenses are growing faster than our profits. That isn’t a state of affairs we are able to allow to preserve.”

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In Scotland, union participants at Queen Margaret University in Musselburgh begin balloting on Wednesday on strike movement over the possibility of 40 activity cuts – about 10% of its staff – even though the college says it hopes to satisfy the number thru voluntary redundancies.

Other universities considering value cutting consist of Birkbeck College in London, which has a “voluntary go out scheme” open for a body of workers, and Bangor University in Wales, that is seeking to keep £5m.
The college economic reporting season additionally famous that some universities retain to thrive. The University of Oxford stated its income crowned £1.5bn for the primary time in 2017-18, with a basic surplus of £150m.

Oxford’s investments grew by way of £286m, which become £68m more than the preceding 12 months, even as the Oxford University Press contributed an in addition £205m.

The financial statements advise the public controversy over vice-chancellors’ high costs of pay has had some effect, with many main universities showing very little increase in pay for their leaders.

At the University of Manchester, in which sales crowned £1bn for the primary time, the full earnings of the vice-chancellor, Nancy Rothwell, fell from £306,000 to £276,000 due to lower pension contributions.

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