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Strike ballot at Sheffield Hallam over 'scandalous' cuts programme

5 April 2024

A strike ballot will open on Monday 15 April at Sheffield Hallam University, announced UCU today

UCU has accused the university of pushing ahead with expensive building projects while launching a wholesale attack on staff and students through an unprecedented cuts programme, severely breaching the post-92 contract and national framework, and attacking on working conditions. 

The university has said 225 academic jobs will be axed, with up to 80 staff facing compulsory redundancy. Around 140 senior experienced academics have already left following the opening of a voluntary severance scheme in December (2023) and the university is now ploughing ahead with further compulsory job losses. 

Cuts come alongside unprecedented breaches of the post-92 national contract that will severely impact research and teaching. The university intends to completely remove the (grade 9) principal lecturer role, force line management responsibilities onto (grade 8) lecturers and create a new teaching (grade 6) "academic tutor" role.  

Sheffield Hallam claims it needs to make the cuts because of "the financial climate for higher education" including high inflation and international student recruitment. But it has refused to review its building costs, which have exceeded £200m in recent years. This includes its new campus in London, part of an £8bn development, or its Howard Street development, where it has so far spent over £40m on three new buildings.  

Detrimental changes to staffing roles would limit lecturers' career progression, force senior lecturers to become line managers taking them away from teaching and research and increasing their already high workloads, and mean students are taught by non-lecturing staff, lowering the quality of learning and breaking the link between teaching and research by which higher education is defined.  

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Sheffield Hallam staff will be voting to take strike action because the cuts management is trying to force through are scandalous. They would see teaching, research and academic standards torn to shreds.  

'We also refuse to allow a race to the bottom at former polytechnics. Managers cannot tear up crucial agreements like the national framework and post-92 contract, which secure the working conditions and academic standards of the sector. 

'Hallam's management has made reckless financial decisions, taking out large debts that leave the university more vulnerable to inflationary pressures. It is outrageous that rather than reviewing its spending on new buildings and a satellite campus halfway across the country, management would rather slash jobs, jeopardise academic standards, and tear up our hard-won terms and conditions. We urge the university to urgently take stock and change course.'  

Last updated: 8 April 2024