De Montfort University has announced it might have to cull 58 positions in a bid to cut costs. The university has said its finances have been hit by both the pandemic, which has resulted in fewer students, and the current cost of living crisis.
Any cuts will come into effect in October and could effect academic and professorial staff, as well as non-academic staff. A spokesperson for DMU added that the university has been ‘left having to make the hardest decision [it] could’ – reviewing staffing costs – which might lead to redundancies and job roles being cut.
The spokesperson said: “Over the past year, De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has introduced a robust programme of cost-saving measures aimed at improving the organisation’s efficiency and addressing an overall budget deficit. While these measures have greatly improved the university’s financial position, the profound effect of the global pandemic, which has led to a reduction in student numbers, combined with the rising costs of living mean that further savings still need to be found.
“Having already implemented a comprehensive set of measures including voluntary severance, we are left with having to make the hardest decision we could and review staffing costs, which may result in reductions to posts and redundancies. In total, the university anticipates a net reduction of 58 roles across academic and professional services, but these proposals will continue to be reviewed.
“DMU is entirely dependent on its dedicated and brilliant staff to make it what it is and as such this is the last decision we wanted to take.”
The spokesperson added the steps were necessary to make sure the university would be ‘financially resilient into the future’ and could keep providing ‘high-quality teaching, learning and research’ and community contributions.
Current cost cutting measures have included voluntary redundancies, freezing senior staff bonuses, reducing overtime pay and spending on casual and consultancy staff. The university has also limited non-essential staff training and suspended their academic promotions processes.
It is now consulting with Unions on the possibly job losses. In a statement, the committee for the DMU branch of the University and College Union (UCU) said it contests the move ‘as a matter of principle’.
The committee added: “We are particularly opposed to this most recent decision because the financial rationale for taking action is unclear, lacks granular detail, and is based on questionable projections. Even as recently as last year, we were assured that the measures taken to reduce expenditure were needed to save jobs, and that this determination distinguished us from rival institutions.
“Staff at this institution worked tirelessly on the Research Excellence Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework (systems for assessing the quality of research and teaching in higher education settings) submissions, and supported our students throughout the pandemic: the very people who saved the university from collapse should not pay the price for the mismanagement of resource.
“Moreover, the suggestion that this is a limited exercise, and not the precursor of further reductions in staffing, should be treated with caution – we all need to support those under threat, because this may be just the first phase of a process that ushers in a terminal decline.”
The consultation period with the unions will run until Friday, June 17.