Labour Research June 2009


University bosses wield jobs axe

A tide of university job cuts across the country has prompted united resistance by higher education unions the UCU, UNISON, Unite, the GMB and the EIS as well as the NUS students’ union.

The unions are demanding a national redundancy avoidance agreement which the national employers’ organisation, the UCEA was, as Labour Research went to press, still refusing to sign.

A national ballot for strike action by the UCU lecturers’ union has been deferred until the autumn term, following legal challenges.

Two-thirds of all universities are said to be considering job cuts, despite a high level of demand for higher education places and national funding settlements well above inflation. The UCU accuses universities and colleges of cutting departments that actually generate surpluses or have excellent teaching and research, in response to the government’s agenda on specialisation.

Cardiff University is planning to axe 140 jobs and cut 250 courses. Strathclyde University has plans to get rid of 140 staff, while London Metropolitan University (LMU) is proposing to axe at least 550 jobs, which equates to 800 staff actually at risk (one quarter of the workforce).

The university has been hit by funding cuts and repayment demands totalling millions of pounds following inaccurate reporting of the number of students completing courses. LMU unions also warn of continued outsourcing and privatisation, and attacks on union reps, and say it could mean the “beginning of the end” for the university.