UCU condemns closure of modern languages at Leeds Beckett University

29 July 2022

UCU has today condemned the decision by Leeds Beckett University to close all modern languages provision at the university.

Staff were informed last week, just as the university closes for the summer, of the plans to cut all modern language courses at the university from September 2022, a decision that has put six members of teaching staff at risk of compulsory redundancy. 

UCU has condemned the decision and its timing and called on the university to halt the plans and properly consult with the local union branch and members of staff. 

The union said that Leeds Beckett management has a duty to avoid redundancies, reduce the numbers of employees that will lose their jobs and to mitigate the consequences of the dismissals. 

UCU says the move to intentionally wait until the end of July when many academic staff are on leave is cynical, leaving staff completely uncertain of their futures and knowing that their chances of seeking other employment is severely impacted. 

The university is blaming insufficient student numbers as grounds for cuts to courses but staff have been prevented from advertising and recruiting to courses for the next academic year and say that the decision has been made without thinking of the consequences for staff, students, and wider community.  

Languages at Leeds Beckett has been a key part of the institution dating back to the late 70s and losing the provision would negatively impact on both the standing of the university and the chances of a broad education for local students. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'It is deeply concerning to see the university cutting its modern language provision without consulting staff and trade unions. It is particularly cynical to do so as staff go on leave. UCU is calling on the university management to rethink its decision, and to get around the negotiating table, and look at other options that can prevent course and job cuts. 

'Modern language at Leeds Beckett is a renowned department and culling it would be devastating to students. It would also have a profound impact on the local area as the courses on offer shrink dramatically. Management urgently needs to change course and protect this vital humanities subject.' 

Last updated: 29 July 2022