Job cuts loom as University of Leicester plans to ‘disinvest’

Wide-ranging job losses are likely at the University of Leicester under plans it has revealed this week.

The university has written to some 3,800 employees warning of potential compulsory redundancies as it seeks to ‘disinvest’ in some areas.

Vice-chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah has said the university’s new strategic plan is essential to secure its future as a ‘world-leading’ establishment.

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The university has declined to say how many posts are at risk but in a letter to staff, seen by LeicestershireLive, Prof Canagarajah said: “With our centenary approaching and a new strategic plan underway this is the perfect moment to secure our second century.

“To compete on a global level we need to focus our efforts and build on our core strengths

“We can’t be excellent at everything.

“This means we need to make suitable investments in people and infrastructure to sustain and build on our position as a world-leading university.

“In order to do this we need to make some difficult decisions by disinvesting in certain areas of the university to sustain our areas of excellence and take advantage of emerging areas in research and education.”

LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards 2020 at The Morningside Arena
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The vice-chancellor said there had been significant changes in student demand for some courses with it growing in some areas but suffering long-term decline in others.

He added: “Some changes are now essential for our future success which may lead to compulsory redundancies.”

He said he and other senior figures had drawn up a list of affected areas where ‘we may need to refocus our activity, reduce what we are doing or cease our work completely.’

The listed impacted areas

  • School of Arts

  • School of Business

  • School of informatics

  • School of Mathematics and Actuarial Science

  • Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

A ‘reshaping’ of various professional services is planned in

  • Customer Services

  • Doctoral College and PGR Administration

  • Education Services

  • Estates and DIgital Services

  • Learning Services

  • Research and Enterprise Administration

“I recognise this will be a difficult period for those colleagues involved in any future changes,” he said.

“I do not underestimate the impact this will have on colleagues across the university.

“I am not doing this lightly.

“Taking action now will protect us from further larger changes in the future and will enable us to be in control of our own destiny.”

The vice-chancellor said he would work with trade unions and the student unions as the plans develop over the coming months.

The Leicester University and College Union (UCU) branch has said it was ‘frankly staggered’ and angered that Prof Canagarajah had said he considered this the ‘perfect time’ to implement such changes.

A UCU spokesperson said: “What does he mean?

“The moment when staff are stretched to breaking point with the university’s emergency workload model, supporting students and colleagues working in radically different ways in the first weeks of term?

“The moment when staff have spent months learning new skills, new systems, new ways of working, only to be told they are in areas of the university that are not ‘excellent’ enough?

“The moment when the global pandemic that has already demanded so much of us is spiralling out of control once more, aided and abetted by vice-chancellors like him promising students “business as usual” on UK campuses?”

The union has vowed to fight any compulsory redundancies.

Leicestershire Live – Leicester News