The University of Leicester has announced that 26 members of staff have been handed their compulsory redundancy notice on 11 May as part of their ‘shaping for excellence’ plans.
The redundancies have faced fierce criticism with the University and College Union (UCU) calling for academics to boycott the university, and staff successfully balloting for industrial action.
After a 90-day consultation process the Vice Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah outlined his reasoning behind the redundancies, stating:
“We acknowledge that every job loss is regrettable. However, the University has to manage its resources and its activity efficiently, effectively and in line with its strategic objectives.
“I have continued with this programme of change because I firmly believe it is required to strengthen the University in the long term.”
The redundancies come across several schools: School of Arts, School of Business, Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour. And Staff from student services have been made redundant, including four members of library staff.
There are more redundancies to come with the School of Informatics, and the School of Mathematics and Actuarial Science yet to receive their notices of compulsory redundancy.
Leicester UCU tweeted: “If you’re @uniofleicester join @leicesterucu in our campaign to reverse these destructive decisions. If you’re not, observe #BoycottLeicester.”
The British Sociological Association has written to Prof. Canagarajah over the closure of Critical Management Studies and Political Economy stating:
“The recent resignation of your External Examiner and the University and Colleges Union’s decision to implement a global ‘grey listing’ of the University of Leicester begin to demonstrate the very serious impact that the proposed plans may have on the future of the Business School and the University more widely.
“As the professional association representing British Sociology and British Sociologists, we call on you to reverse this deeply damaging decision and reaffirm the University’s unequivocal commitment to academic freedom.”
David Harvie, an Officer for the Leicester branch of UCU, and Associate Professor at the University, was one of the 9 who received a notice of compulsory redundancy in the School of Business as his research was “not primarily in areas aligned with School strategic priorities for research”.
Dr Alex Patel, the Learning Development Adviser at Leicester, tweeted: “In the new education services, we have lost 11 people, probably mostly through a voluntary severance scheme (VSS). The 26 redundancies don’t include people forced to take VSS.”
Prof Canagarajah added: “At the start of the consultation, we announced that 145 posts were at risk of redundancy, of which we were expecting a net reduction of approximately 60 posts.
“Throughout the consultation process we have worked hard to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies through changes to the pool of people at risk, redeployment opportunities, and the option of taking voluntary severance.
“Taking these steps has significantly reduced the number of staff being given notice of compulsory redundancy to 26.
Students were sent an email from Graham Wynn which stated: “We are now doing all we can to mitigate against the current action short of strike to ensure finalists can graduate and progress on time, and continuing students can successfully undertake their assessments and complete this academic year.”
Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student. You can find him on Twitter here
Image taken by LSM member Ollie Monk @britwithacamera