SCORES of jobs hang in the balance as part of “rushed and dangerous” cuts at a Southampton university.
Lecturers at the University of Southampton have been told that the institutions need to run more “efficiently and effectively” and to be able to achieve they will need to reduce the number of staff it has through a voluntary severance scheme by up to 75.
Alongside this, the university will also reduce the number of faculties it has from eight to five as part of a 10-year future plan announced yesterday by vice-chancellor Sir Christopher Snowden.
According to the University and College Union (UCU), the university has identified six subject areas in which the it will cut jobs in music, English, law, chemistry, tribology and social sciences although the university has yet to confirm this to the Daily Echo.
UCU regional official Moray McAulay said: “These plans look rushed and dangerous. You cannot deliver world-leading education by cutting staff.
“Students cite lecturers as they key factor when it comes to teaching excellence so the university is unlikely to improve its teaching ranking by cutting staff.
“We will be meeting tomorrow to discuss our official response to the university’s plans, but nothing has been ruled out at this stage.”
In response, the university has dismissed the claims saying the reduction in staff was “an aim that the university hopes to achieve through a voluntary severance scheme.”
A spokesperson added: “The University of Southampton has announced plans to move from eight to five faculties as the next phase of its 10-year plan.
“The move, which was outlined to staff and students on Monday, will combine subject areas into more coherent groupings, allowing the university to run more efficiently and effectively whilst further strengthening research and interdisciplinary activity. It will also create one of the largest single engineering faculties in the UK.
“Separately, the university also announced plans to reduce its academic headcount by 50 to 75 posts through targeted voluntary severance schemes in six specific academic areas.
“These are not redundancies; what was outlined on Monday was a target of 50 to 75 posts which the university hopes to achieve through a voluntary severance scheme.
“None of these proposals have been hurried as the savings the university wishes to achieve were identified 12 months ago as part of a targeted plan of reshaping for the future.
In a speech at the university yesterday, vice chancellor Sir Christopher Snowden added: “The current eight faculties do not play to university strength, and that inter-disciplinary faculty needs to be encouraged.
“By decreasing the number of faculties, the university executive board is convinced that this will help achieve their global mission with a sharper focus.”
He added that student experience would not be compromised and decreasing the number of faculties and there would be no disruption to current courses.
The cuts come after the university achieved a bronze grade in a new higher education rating system called the teaching excellence framework although the university disputes this.
Moray added: “It’s a disappointing ranking for a university that describes itself as a world leader in providing higher education.”