Cuts in the School of Life Sciences at Warwick: Statement by Warwick UCU

The university management has announced a plan to dismiss up to 16 members of the academic staff in the School of Life Sciences on the basis of rigid research income metrics. This comes only four years after a major restructuring of biological sciences.

The UCU does not accept the need for job losses and will never agree to compulsory redundancies as long as the institution is solvent.

The UCU believes:

  • There is not a redundancy situation in the usual sense. Redundancy means posts are no longer needed. But these cuts will be made by the – retrospective – application of a single mechanical performance metric: an average of £75k per year per member of staff in research grants awarded over the past four years (or alternatively £150k pa as Co-I). We regard this as collective performance management not supported by job descriptions rather than redundancy.
  • The university of Warwick has a healthy surplus.
  • The departmental deficit in SLS against plans is the result of overoptimistic, unrealisable targets and very large payments for central services including bloated administration, spending on non-academic priorities and campus capital developments.
  • SLS has been baldy mismanaged in the four years since its creation. The university senior management must take responsibility for appointing the head of department responsible for this shambles.
  • Staff should not be made to pay with their careers for management failings.
  • The expectation that staff raise a fixed amount of external funding as individuals as a condition of employment in an academic role is a wholly new requirement that threatens academics not only in SLS but in all departments across the university.
  • A policy of requiring staff to conform, individually, to arbitrary metrics, is unjust, undermines the idea of a university as a community, making academic work risky without the reward to go with the risk. Many able graduate students are increasingly thinking twice about an academic career. This will do long term damage to universities in the UK which are among the best in the world.
  • The dismissal of academic staff who are engaged in teaching in the middle of the academic year will do immense harm to the student experience and damage the reputation of Warwick university.

We call on management to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies.

Dennis Leech
Branch President

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