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Strike ballot opens this week at the University of the Highlands and Islands in row over job cuts

15 August 2023

A ballot for strike action opens this week (Friday 18 August) at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in a dispute* over job cuts and compulsory redundancies.  The ballot will run until 20 September and could pave the way for strike action at the university in the new academic year.

Members of UCU Scotland at UHI are being asked if they are willing to take part in strike action and action short of strike.  In an e-mail to all staff yesterday the university confirmed plans for drastic cuts to the staff budget of £3million which will lead to significant job losses and includes compulsory redundancies.  Job losses are expected to be in the university's Executive Office which employs staff involved in teaching, research, management and administration for the university, including delivery of Nursing and History programmes, essential services like student support and assuring academic quality, as well as carrying out important research into critical areas for the Highlands and Islands such as rural health and wellbeing.  The university also announced a further £1million cut in the non-staff budget.

The university recently boasted about their placing in the national student survey, the annual ranking of universities by students based on their experience, saying the excellent results were due to the 'talented and student-focused staff'.  The union said that the very same staff the university were congratulating last week will now be hugely worried and demoralised by these savage cuts.     

University of the Highlands and Islands UCU branch president, Dr Heather Fotheringham, said: 'The UHI principal and senior managers need to urgently reconsider these brutal plans to cut staff and vital services and instead work with staff and the union and commit to no compulsory redundancies. Cuts will have a devastating impact on the people made redundant and their families, but also to the university's reputation and the student experience.  UHI is well loved in this area providing access to education up to PhD level to the geographically dispersed population of the Highlands and Islands. Anything that reduces its ability to function means that students and young people across the region will have fewer educational opportunities.'


*The UCU dispute with UHI also relates to the statutory redundancy consultation that the employer is required to conduct where it plans to dismiss more than 20 employees as redundant.  UCU said the university had not consulted with the union prior to announcing redundancies.

Last updated: 16 August 2023