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UCU condemns 'baffling' dismissal of University of Sussex lecturer

25 August 2023

UCU has today condemned plans by the University of Sussex to make a member of teaching staff redundant after having advertised a new permanent post that includes all his current duties.

Philosopher Lecturer James Furner has been employed at the university on consecutive fixed term part-time contracts since 2021, but on 22 August the university wrote to him to say that his employment will come to an end this month. Yet on July 7 it advertised a new full-time post of Lecturer in Philosophy stating that the post-holder 'will be expected' to teach the same four undergraduate modules that James taught in 2022-3.

The University's procedures allow for a redundancy if 'the University's requirement/s for members of staff to carry out work of a particular kind' are 'expected to cease or diminish'. But in this case, the University is not reducing its overall staff requirements in philosophy. It requires a new full time permanent Lecturer in Philosophy, and it requires the teaching that James has been doing. 

The University of Sussex published a net operating cash inflow of £57m in 2021 and UCU say that there is enough money in the institution to employ current staff on full-time permanent positions and end the reliance on casualised contracts.

A petition has been launched in protest against the plans.

University of Sussex UCU branch president Jo Pawlik said: "The decision to make James Furner redundant flies in the face of the progress on anti-casualisation that we have been making with the University of Sussex over the last year and is as baffling as it is enraging. Refusing this current employee job security continues the shocking trend in the sector of treating academic staff as though they are expendable. It is irreconcilable with the university's ambition to be an employer of choice and we call on management to reverse its decision".

Last updated: 19 September 2023