Cuts at the University of Kent

I was informed from a close friend that there is due to be cuts at the University of Kent. The department in question is reportedly bio-sciences, whilst this is unconfirmed, and there may indeed be further cuts to other departments, the whole thing is propostuous.

How can top-quality, higher education be guaranteed when vice-chancellors and others are prepared to take the knife to lecturers and staff?

How can they justify doing this when they are so intent on making university the default choice for almost every young person?

How can they expect students to pay more for their education, yet have less staff members, less contact time with their lecturers and seminar leaders and less of a quality education?

I will post more information as I get it, but I think Kent might need a bit of the Sussex flavour, if you get what I mean.

Update: I have received an email with a bit more background to the story, please be aware that I have crossed out any reference to personal information.

It appears that the first ‘phase’ of redundancies has been amongst people who should now be considered ‘permanent’ workers but who the university is making out  to be ‘fixed term’ workers reliant on funding contracts. There also seems to have been a practice of approaching people individually in the ‘first’ phase, obviously making it a lot harder for people to guage support and contest any redundancy selection process on a more collective basis.

In addition, there is a refusal on the part of university human resources staff to understand the gender implications of targeting non- professorial and/or teaching staff in a department which appears to have an extremely poor record of promoting and retaining women.

After XX years working in Biosciences, X has been subject to an extremely problematic redundancy selection procedure and faces being out of work very soon. This is in advance of the current proposed redundancies.

X will therefore be raising at the meeting:

1. The issue of which groups of people (women, previous fixed term workers, older people) are more likely to be targeted in this, and other, university redundancy selection processes and the political and  legal implications of these practices. (To make it clear: I am  against all forced redundancies);

2. The fact that these redundancies have been preceded by  a strategic ‘picking off’ of certain members of staff. For this reason, we need to adopt a more critical analysis of how job losses are being pursued in  the university. It’s not always the case that people are told  that they are part of a redundancy ‘at risk’ list. In fact, we need  to be  aware of those who are left to fight individual redundancies and support these people just as effectively.


3 Responses so far »

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  2. 2

    UCU Mole from Kent said,

    Move on Mr PluralProgressive, there is nothing to see here. Biosciences at Kent had a disastrous result in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise; 25% of their research output was given the lowest possible rating, and their grade point average was close to the bottom of the entire national table. Clearly, much of the research activity in the department is sub-standard and does not deserve to continue. A careful review of the department resulted in a decision to focus research on the successful areas which meet national and international standards. It was also decided to continue all the existing degree programmes, which have been very successful in student recruitment and student satisfaction as measured by the National Student Survey in successive years. Taking account of the teaching workload that can be done by the remaining research-active staff, and the calculation of how much teaching is needed to deliver the rest of the degree programmes, including full account of specialist material which can be delivered only by a very limited number of the current staff, the clear conclusion is that the department is overstaffed by some 30%. Therefore, some staff will be redeployed to other work within the University, commensurate with their skills and qualifications, and others will be made redundant. The only thing that is “propostuous” about this (apart from your illiterate spelling) is your knee-jerk reaction in defence of the “academic jobs are for life” fantasy.

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