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Students better briefed than staff?

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Students better briefed than staff?

The National Union of Students has produced an excellent briefing document and guide to how Universities may seek to implement cuts deriving from the immediate 6% cut in the teaching allocation for 2011/12 and also any shortfall in funding following the introduction of the new fee regime. They highlight closure of, and merger of, departments as the most ‘brutal’ of possible strategies.

Many academic staff in Russell Group and 1994 Group Universities seem sanguine about their fate and seem to believe that the ability to charge the premium fee will be their lifeline. However, the higher the University in the ‘pecking order’, the greater the competition to maintain rank order position, and, therefore, the more likely it is that the ‘brutal’ strategy of merger and closure will prevail. Architect of the new regime, Professor David Eastwood (VC of Birmingham University and member of the Browne Review) began such a strategy of ‘sustainable excellence’ in anticipation of the outcomes of the Browne Review. This has involved closure of departments and redundancies and staff reductions across a number of areas of the University. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that Birmingham students were the first to return to occupation.

  1. I think it’s a pretty good briefing, it’s perhaps not as strongly worded as it could be.

    It takes the point of view that some cuts are unavoidable or required, which needs to be challenged for any level of success. As the case study rightly points out, cuts never deliver the level of saving required and will result in the management coming back for more.

    As for students being better briefed than staff? I don’t think much of the things in here are significantly different to that which UCU branches have been doing up and down the country – Leeds being a great example. In many ways these are things that some UCU branches are doing on a regular basis.

  2. Gurminder K Bhambra says:

    The issue isn’t one of action by different UCU branches, but the availability of a comprehensive statement from the Union about the position of different universities and the nature of actions that might be expected to be taken by university management (with regard to closures, mergers, etc).

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