Written by Toby Cray
Four petitions opposing the proposed compulsory redundancies at the University of Leicester have received over four thousand signatures from across the globe, with three of them handed in to the university today, 27 January.
The proposed cuts to the English department have generated the biggest response, with three separate petitions receiving over three thousand signatures, including support from the author Philip Pullman.
The University and College Union (UCU) Leicester branch tweeted about the wide-ranging support behind these petitions posting:
“At this stage, protest has been registered by prominent academics from most of the top ranking universities in the world. This is only the first wave of protest.”
The petitions came in response to the start of the formal redundancy consultation, which was announced by the University in an email to staff a few hours into teaching on first day of term.
The English petitions were split between alumni, concerned colleagues, and current students, with report received from distinguished graduates, as Leicester UCU tweets:
“Michael Wood [OBE], has expressed his concern at the plan to axe 1000+ years of writing in English against the wishes of alumni and current students.”
Whilst Elaine Treharne, former Professor of English at Leicester, showed her appreciation for those who signed the non-alumni petition, tweeting:
“Thank you to 2628 signatories of the letter decrying @uniofleicester’s decision to end provision of English lang, medieval & most early mod literature in its English degrees.”
The petition against redundancies in the School of Business has received 1045 signatures, as of 27 January, with the first signatory, Peter Bloom, a professor at the University of Essex, tweeting:
“This is an attack on all those who are willing to think and put into an action world beyond “business as usual.””
The university has previously defended the proposed cuts by stating:
“It is important for the long-term success of the University that we continue to look ahead and plan, especially during such a challenging time.
“Not taking the action we need to now, may result in further, larger changes in the future.”
They added: “We have worked hard to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies in this programme and will support all affected staff during this time.
“A full range of support in in place which includes workshops, 24/7 employee assistance and a re-training fund.”
Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Instagram here: @toby5.c