Job cuts are part of University strategy, students are told
This evening John Fisher, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Viv Jones, met with students to discuss with them the impact of the current cuts on the student experience. They fielded some awkward questions for an hour in the Mine bar in the Union, and in the end conceded to students that job cuts were an integral part of their economies strategy. One student described his experience and disappointment in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, and received applause from his peers. He finished his question by asking if he were able to sue for breach of contract, given that he had entered a course of study which was now necessarily very different to that advertised. Another FBS student was told that she had been ‘misinformed’ when she pointed out that human genetics projects are no longer available as a result of her tutor being made redundant. But her tutor had been made redundant, and human genetics projects have been curtailed by the cuts in FBS. Coming away from the meetings, students spoke of how they had heard repeated “platitudes” of how the 700 job cuts would not impact on the student experience. The UCU believes that the proof of the pudding will be in the digestibility of the increased student-staff ratios that the University admits will result from their cuts.
It is notable that within just an hour of the end of the meeting, ten more students had joined the Facebook page ‘Defend Jobs at Leeds, Defend Education‘. By the end of the evening, a further twenty had joined, making thirty new members in the six hours after the end of the meeting. Prior to the meeting, it had taken seven days to add ten students to the group. Twenty four hours after the end of the meeting a total of 67 new student members had joined the group. A week after the meeting, a total of 130 students had added themselves to the group. Professor Jones was asked for her response to these statistics, but we have yet to receive their comments. Mike Gladstone, SU Education officer, responded “I think it’s great students are being pro-active […] in general we will continue to be happy to offer students a choice of what action they can take and these include supporting the campaigns of the campus trade unions.”
This blog posting will be updated with reports from the forthcoming Leeds Student Radio and Leeds Student reports of the event.