Sunday, May 19, 2024

Concerns as University of Huddersfield announces ‘highly damaging’ job cuts

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In a letter to all staff, vice-chancellor Professor Bob Cryan said the university planned to make 198 compulsory redundancies.

Unison said the cuts would be “highly damaging” to the university – but bosses there said they needed to take action amid a “financial crisis”. 

Vikki Garratty, Unison Yorkshire and Humberside regional organiser, said: “This announcement is completely unacceptable. 

“The university is facing huge financial pressures, but leaping straight to compulsory redundancies is not the way to solve this.

“University managers must reconsider their options – and work with Unison to find an alternative solution.”

Unison University of Huddersfield branch secretary Steve Howe added: “This is an incredibly unsettling time for staff and will have consequences students at the university too.”

Meanwhile, the Telegraph & Argus has seen an open letter, written by a concerned student at the University of Huddersfield, which has been sent to Professor Cryan.

She told him the plans were “impacting real people with real lives” and added: “Universities only continue to function if they contain well-researched and esteemed academics within them.”

A University of Huddersfield spokesperson said: “Since 2012, UK undergraduate tuition fees have increased by only 2.8 per cent, from £9,000 to £9,250, despite inflation surging by over 50 per cent. 

“This has precipitated a financial crisis in the university sector, affecting many institutions including ours. 

“We are now among the 40 per cent of universities facing budget deficits in 2023-24, further exacerbated by a 44 per cent sector-wide decline in international student enrolments in January 2024 due to changes in Government immigration policy. 

“Rising staff costs, particularly in pension contributions, further strain our budget.

“Despite these challenges, our university has demonstrated resilience. 

“We previously initiated restructuring and voluntary schemes to navigate ongoing sector-wide financial pressures but, like many universities, must now implement a transformational change programme. 

“This includes reducing our workforce by 12 per cent to ensure financial sustainability and prepare for a challenging future where tuition fees and immigration policy are unlikely to change.

“Our commitment to educational excellence remains unwavering as we adapt to these economic realities. 

“Our strategies, while challenging, are essential to continue providing world-class education and research, and to play a significant role in regional employment and economic growth. 

“This strategic pivot is not merely a response to immediate challenges but a proactive effort to secure a dynamic and sustainable future for our university.”

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