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Taking action in higher education

Redundancies at Askham Bryan College

25 January 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU members at a land-based college in Yorkshire have begun campaigning to save jobs after learning that the equivalent of ten full-time posts are to be axed.

 The principal of Askham Bryan College, on the outskirts of York, has announced that she intends to save £500,000 on staffing, and that half of this is to come from teaching jobs.

In reality, this means cuts right across the college including in the agriculture, horticulture, animal management, engineering, rural and community, and equine departments.

As many of Askham Bryan's teaching staff work part-time, the number of people who will lose their jobs is likely to be considerably more than ten.

When announcing the cuts, the principal also informed staff that most remission from teaching hours is being removed. This means that teaching staff will lose extra time allocated for vital work that is not face-to-face teaching. For example, a lecturer who is a course tutor and teaches on Foundation Degree courses would currently have 19 hours of teaching contact time with students each week and five extra hours to research their subject and manage their course.  They will now have their contact time with students increased to 24 hours.   Research and course management will have to be done over and above those 24 hours.  

A notice of redundancies was sent to UCU two weeks before the Christmas holidays. The union complained that this did not give enough time for meaningful consultation and as a result, the consultation period was extended until February.

UCU also believes that the way the college is carrying out the redundancy procedure is not in accordance with the law. At an early stage, the Principal should have sought ways of reducing the number of compulsory redundancies by identifying staff at risk and then seeking volunteers for redundancy or finding alternative employment for them.  Instead, she intends to apply redundancy selection criteria prematurely.

UCU has also complained that the college has failed to properly carry out the three equality impact assessments they are required to undertake by the new statutory equality duties for race,  disability and gender.

The Askham Bryan UCU branch has formed a campaign group which is producing materials and may soon lobby governors. Since the campaign started, UCU has seen its membership at Askham Bryan steadily increase.

Messages of support can be sent to the UCU branch secretary, John Middleton.