The Guardian names and shames the University of Leeds
An article in today’s Guardian details the job losses in Universities around the country, shaming the University of Leeds as planning by far the highest number of job losses at 700. Read the Guardian article here.
The UCU thinks it remarkable, and good reason to question Leeds’s management judgement and acumen, that they are planning huge numbers of jobs cuts when our university is in one of the healthiest financial positions of all its peers. To jeopardise the university’s reputation in this way – a reputation built and sustained by its staff, not its management – is unacceptable. We believe that to make these job cuts based on pure guesswork of what public funding cuts might be in 2010 is irresponsible, and all the more so given the relatively secure current financial position of the university. We argue that we should be considering our position carefully, in detail and without the threat of compulsory redundancies, and planning for the predicted funding cuts in a way that enables us to sensibly make any necessary adjustment when we have the actual and true figures in front of us. We believe that jeopardising people’s livelihoods based on crystal ball gazing is not good management, and runs contrary to the ‘strategy map’ vocabulary of valuing staff.
The University of Leeds is getting a 2.1% increase in recurrent HEFCE funding this year. The last available figures showed the university had a £18.2 million operating surplus, more than doubling that of the year before. The UK HE average is an operating surplus of 2% of total income, whereas at Leeds it is 4%. Given this comfortable position, we could be reviewing possible economies, with a commitment to no compulsory redundancies, ready to act when the financial horizon is clear and the HEFCE cuts are know. That is a realistic alternative that respects and protects the university and values the input of staff. It is, in fact, in line with the University’s published strategy map, unlike their own strategy. The VC and his team are trying to keep people on side by talking of ‘risks’ if we don’t act now – essentially arguing that there can only be one course of action – theirs. The UCU believes that guessing what future cuts might be, and gambling with chopping bits off the university according to that rough guess, itself represents an absolute, demonstrable, measurable and dangerous risk to the efficient running and reputation of our university. As today’s Guardian article demonstrates, our management are stubbornly willing to take that risk as our University’s reputation takes another hit.