Vow to fight plan to cut 37 University of Huddersfield jobs ‘tooth and nail’ | #students | #parents

The union spearheading the fight back against 37 job cuts at the University of Huddersfield says its management has “failed to provide a business case for the job cuts and the course restructuring.”

Dr Anna Zueva, Huddersfield University and College Union branch secretary, and Dr Gary Allen, Huddersfield UCU branch chairman spoke out after it was revealed that job cuts have been proposed in the School of Arts and Humanities. Out of these, seven are technician posts and 30 are academic posts. The job cuts are accompanying a restructuring of taught courses.

The union says this will be the third restructuring in this School in as many years. In the summer of 2000, a restructuring led to a reduction in number in full-time academic posts, although most jobs were saved through job shares and people accepting fractional contracts. In the summer of 2021, the Schools of Arts, Design and Architecture and Music, Humanities and Media were merged to form the School of Arts and Humanities.

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Nearly 3,000 people have now signed a petition objecting to the proposals. Dr Allen said: “The University of Huddersfield wants to rush these cuts through with the bare minimum of input from staff, which is why it sent round a consultation document which we believe contains several factual errors.

Huddersfield University.

“These cuts would leave valued and experienced colleagues without jobs and do huge damage to student provision. We cannot allow the university to push ahead unchallenged. We are surveying staff who are impacted and will use the results to help us form counter proposals to protect jobs and student access to the arts and humanities.”

In a joint statement regarding the merger, Dr Zueva and Dr Allen said: “No academic jobs were lost then, but some professional (support) services were. The merger was supposed to deliver cost savings through rationalisation of resource use. And now, after only one year, we are facing more brutal cuts than before.

“We at the Huddersfield UCU oppose the cuts. Huddersfield management has so far failed to provide a business case for the job cuts and the course restructuring. We have not had sight of a financial case or a comprehensive description of the proposed course changes.

“Basic figures that one would expect to see in such a situation – e.g. School budget surplus/deficit trends, analysis of staff costs and student recruitment projections.

“The university management agreed to provide us with this information, but we are yet to receive it. Until then, we cannot consider ourselves to be in a consultation with the management as meaningful consultation is not possible without appropriate data.

“While the university management opened a voluntary severance scheme, there is little appetite among staff for it. Most staff want to stay in their posts at Huddersfield.

“These are dedicated workers who faced punishing workloads and burnout throughout the pandemic years, worked incredibly hard with very little support from the university to increase student numbers on arts and humanities course, and managed, this year, to achieve these increases on most courses that are now being affected. With only a year passing since the last restructuring, staff are not being given enough time or support to grow their courses further.

“Considering the dire culture of overwork in the UK universities, many staff re-hired on fractional contracts after the restructuring will most likely end up doing full-time or over full-time jobs for less money.

“Extremely worrying is the fact that Huddersfield cuts are part of the wider national assault on arts and humanities in higher education. Jobs and courses in arts and humanities are under threat or have already been cut in the universities of Roehampton, Goldsmiths, De Montfort, Wolverhampton, and Dundee, among others.

“Post-92 universities are particularly affected. This will drastically reduce the access to education in arts and humanities among less advantaged students, especially those who struggle to afford moving to larger cities in order to attend more prestigious universities that may retain arts and humanities courses. Arts and humanities provision for people living in Kirklees is certainly in danger.

“We at the UCU fail to see how cuts to education in critical thinking, reading, writing and imagination supports the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda. The cuts also undermine the fundamental contribution that creative industries have been making to the UK economy for many years.”

A university spokeswoman said: “The School of Arts and Humanities is reshaping to align itself to meet current and future areas of student demand. The university continues to invest in areas of growth and manage its resources effectively.”

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