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Taking action in higher education

Universities must not use RAE results to axe jobs warns UCU

30 April 2009 | last updated: 8 March 2019

Clear national agreement to protect unnecessary job cuts essential, says union, as ballot papers for industrial action go out

UCU today warned universities not to use the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) results as an excuse to axe jobs or departments. The content of submissions made to the RAE is published today on the RAE 2008 website and the union has said it fears some universities will try to spin the results to justify axing jobs or departments.
One hundred universities have already signalled their intention to make job cuts and UCU is currently in dispute with the employers' organisation over its failure to agree to a national agreement that would ensure any institution looking to axe jobs would have to make the case clearly and transparently.
UCU cited the recent closure of Reading University's School of Health and Social Care and eight departments at risk at Liverpool University as examples of institutions using the RAE results to cull staff and departments.
The union had given the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) until 20 April (Monday) to provide a credible response to its demands for a national agreement to avoid redundancies. By Monday's deadline the union had only received a reply from UCEA's chair, Bill Wakeham, that said the union should be 'patient' over job losses in the sector. The union said that with so many jobs at risk, now is not the time to be patient and ballot papers for industrial action will begin to be issued tomorrow (1 May) and the ballot will conclude on 22 May.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The employers themselves have already told us that 100 institutions will be looking to make cuts, and restructuring arising from the RAE seems to be on the increase. Yet ill-thought out plans which cut essential departments and put much-needed staff on the dole queue are the last thing higher education needs at a time when demand from potential students is increasing.
'UCU has called for urgent national negotiations to agree a coordinated approach to protect jobs and the quality of education universities provide. We remain bewildered that the employers are opposed to the proposal which is in the interests of students, staff and the sector as a whole.'