Jobs fears for university staffBy Chine Mbubaegbu
March 03, 2009
Staff at The University of Reading fear their jobs could be at risk as the credit crunch takes its toll on the institution.
The University and College Union (UCU) said worried employees had been in contact over rumours circulating that the university could be about to close further departments – particularly in the sciences.
Last month, the Evening Post reported senior managers at the university controversially recommended the School of Health and Social Care should close, despite a move to improve social care in the wake of the tragic Baby P case.
UCU concerns stem from a meeting held by Professor Gordon Marshall, The University of Reading’s vice-chancellor, last week for heads of department in which he talked about the tough economic environment affecting funding for all UK universities.
Alex Rossiter, a spokesman for UCU, said the meeting implied more departments at The University of Reading could face the chop and had sparked worry among many staff.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “It is unacceptable for staff at any institution to be left in limbo when it comes to their futures.
“The university has a responsibility to its staff to let them know what is going on.
“Rumours of job losses and whole departments potentially being axed do nothing for the university’s reputation, the staff or the students.
“We fully understand that some institutions are facing difficult times and that is why we are always available to work through those problems.
“The process needs to be open and transparent and the university needs to start that process immediately.”
But University of Reading spokesman Alex Brannen said the criticisms were unfounded and the meeting held by the vice-chancellor merely pre-empted the possible reduction in funding likely to be announced on Thursday by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
He said: “The impact of this reduction in research funding may be significant but will not be threatening – it is a relatively small proportion of our annual income.
“However, like every other organisation, we are also faced with increasing costs in areas such as pensions, salaries and energy and we are already taking significant steps to rebalance our budget to ensure we are not faced with the prospect of an unsustainable financial deficit over the next few years.
“The university can confirm it has made no decisions to close or merge any parts of the university. It will, however, be reviewing activities across the whole university.”