The University of Manchester has set out plans to axe 171 jobs, leaving 926 staff uncertain about their future. The university says it wants to cut 140 academic jobs and 31 professional support roles.
Academic job losses will be concentrated in three departments. In the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, 35 posts will be cut from a pool of 104 whose jobs are at risk. In the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, 65 academic jobs are to go with 627 people at risk.
At the Alliance Manchester Business School, which was the recipient of a landmark £15m donation in October 2014 from Lord David Alliance who described it as a “world-class centre for business education”, 40 jobs are to be axed with 104 jobs at risk.
The 31 professional support roles will come from the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the National Composites Certification and Evaluation Faculty, the Photon Science Institute and the Directorate of Finance.
The university says it will do a sweep for voluntary redundancies but has not ruled out compulsory job losses. UCU says there is a lack of economic rationale for the mass redundancies with the university in a strong financial position.
According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the university recorded a £59.7m surplus for the year in 2015/16, after a £19.6m deficit the year before (2014/15). The university’s financial statement revealed it has reserves totalling £1.5bn, of which £430m is cash and immediately available.
The university blames new government legislation and Brexit as major factors threatening its future income. UCU argues that the university is using Brexit and the new higher education law as excuses to make short-term cuts that will cause long-term damage.
Setting out its rationale for the redundancies, the university described how its need to “create financial headroom” will be a significant challenge in light of “increased financial, political and sector uncertainty”.
The university said that the uncertainties included “greater global competition, reductions in public funding, exchange rate fluctuations, the potential decline in student numbers and research income, new private providers, the new Teaching Excellence Framework, the uncertainties of Brexit and further increases in costs arising from pensions and inflation.”
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘We see no economic rationale for jobs cuts on such an enormous scale. The University of Manchester is in a strong financial position and we believe it is using recent government policy changes and Brexit as an excuse to make short-term cuts that will cause long-term damage.
‘It takes a lot longer to rebuild a department than it does to dismantle one. If the university wishes to maintain its position as one of our leading institutions it needs to rethink plans to sack large numbers of professors, lecturers and support staff to create what it has called “financial headroom”.’