University of Warwick criticised over plans to sack medical staff

5 December 2014 | last updated: 10 December 2015

The University of Warwick has been criticised for plans to sack staff at Warwick Medical School. UCU described its criteria for redundancy as too simplistic and based purely on money.

The university has said it wants to reduce the number of staff in its medical school to compensate for a drop in the level of research income. It says the redundancies will come from a pool of full-time professors, readers and associate professors who have failed to secure £90,000 a year over the past four years.

The union said using such a simple cash criteria to decide how to sack staff demonstrated a worrying lack of understanding of research work and research funding. UCU said the medical school covers a wide range of disciplines, from expensive laboratory-based science to social sciences which require considerably less funding, something the criteria fails to take into account.

UCU has launched a national petition calling on University of Warwick vice-chancellor, Nigel Thrift, to reverse the 'damaging and dangerous practice'. The union said if the proposals were forced through key work, such as research into challenging kidney transplants where patients are at high risk of rejecting the donor organ, would be seriously affected.

Other areas of work likely to suffer include research into cancer pathology and the role of the immune system in fighting cancer, as well as work on women's health and reproductive medicine, looking at fertility and pregnancy complications.

The union said that rather than instead of looking to swing a very rudimentary axe through the medical school, the university should foster better links with nearby institutes of clinical excellence and integrate medicine with Warwick's strengths in the physical sciences to establish a strong regional cluster of expertise.

UCU regional official, Anne O'Sullivan, said: 'Warwick Medical School is at the forefront of cutting edge research into life-threatening illnesses. It should be looking to foster closer local links and develop its expertise, not arbitrarily axing staff based on simple cash criteria.

'The university's approach demonstrates a worrying lack of understanding about research work and its funding. We would urge the university to step back from this unusual move and reconsider how the school might be able to meet targets than simply sacking a few people.'

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