University of Surrey announces 65 job losses

12 May 2009 | last updated: 11 December 2015

The University of Surrey has announced that it is planning to make 65 staff redundant. In an ominous message to staff, vice-chancellor, Professor Christopher Snowdon, said he could not guarantee that there would be no compulsory redundancies and predicted some universities would be reduced in size and scope or even forced to merge as the financial crisis takes its toll on UK higher education.

UCU said his plans made a mockery of the university's recent commitment to 'helping vulnerable individuals and businesses through the recession, by securing the skills they need to protect employment.' It also said that Snowdon's announcement added further weight to its call for a national agreement to protect jobs.

'Today's announcement is further proof that we desperately need a national agreement to ensure universities explore all possibilities before announcing potentially ruinous job cuts'
Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

The union is currently balloting its members for strike action across the country over the national employers' refusal to sign up to an agreement that would ensure universities only consider sacking staff as a last resort and after all other options have been properly explored. The result of the ballot is expected on Friday 22 May.
 
The Surrey job cuts announcement comes just weeks after the university proudly announced it had successfully bid for £600,000 funding to help people at risk of losing their jobs during the recession. Professor Snowden is the UK's eleventh best-paid vice-chancellor and enjoyed a salary of £285,000 in 2008 – an 11% rise on the previous year. At that time staff at the University of Surrey were begrudgingly awarded just a 5.7% rise, which the employers said was at the brink of affordability.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Today's announcement is further proof that we desperately need a national agreement to ensure universities explore all possibilities before announcing potentially ruinous job cuts. It is particularly galling that the University of Surrey is proudly boasting of delivering advice that can boost recovery opportunities and then just weeks later announcing that it will be axing staff.'
 
Further information

  • The University of Surrey website detailing its successful bid for £600,000 to help those at risk in difficult times
  • From the vice-chancellor's message to staff today: 'These are very challenging times and over the next few years, it is clear that higher education in the UK will suffer great turmoil. Many universities will be reduced in size or scope, deprived of research opportunities, or forced to merge
     
    'Detailed proposals are now being developed by the Faculties and the Executive Board, and will be finalised in early June. At this time it seems likely that at least 65 academic and support posts will have to be removed across the University, but this will have to be selective and targeted; we must not reduce our capacity in areas of strength and promise. I will present fuller details of the plans to the University during June
     
    'Local UCU members have asked me to do my best to limit compulsory redundancies and ensure that those made redundant are properly compensated and treated fairly. This I shall certainly do, but of course I cannot guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies.'

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