Faculty S188 plans – Time to Stop the Spiral of Decline

1st April 2015

[adapted from an email sent to members, internal info is omitted]

Dear colleagues,

As no doubt many of you will have seen, the faculty Dean’s in GFBL, FSSH, CASS and FLSC have just released their S188 plans. What is immediately obvious – and unfortunately predicted, is just how much the various proposed staff cuts are directly targeted at front line teaching staff.

However, before commenting on the current proposed staff cuts, we feel it most important to let you know these cuts will be followed by other significant cuts in the next years. With those future cuts in mind, Let’s now look at what these current faculty-based staff cuts will mean for our students.

Firstly, they WILL have an immediate and seriously negative affect on our current (and potential) students despite the various assurances they’ve been receiving from the Vice Chancellor.

Expressly, in GFBL it is proposed that a massive reduction in academic posts (57.9 FTE), will initially be premised on cutting the number of optional UG modules (each currently with less than 20 students) from 38 to 14 for 2015/16. This will directly impact on continuing students as it affects their module choice. It is also premised on increasing to the absolute permissible contractual maxima the FST for all remaining staff. Again, something that will directly impact on our students in terms of staff out of hours availability. FBL management are also stating that they will now be reviewing PG courses with similar course/module cutting intentions. Finally, it is likely that the significant cuts targeted at research grade staff in the faculty will all but wipe out the faculty’s research provision. All, premised on increasing SSRs to the ludicrously high, and essentially unsustainable figure, of 35:1.

In FLSC, it is explicitly stated that management posts are to be protected while teaching staff are to be targeted – again with the express intent to increase SSR. In particular, PG teaching is being specifically targeted despite the fact that many of our School of Computing PG courses have only in the last year been awarded British Computer Society accreditation, and PG courses across the faculty are well positioned to take advantage of next year’s opening up of PG Home/EU loans, as well as the all (political) party push to facilitate an increase in STEM education.

In FSSH, again, the majority of grades to be deleted are non-management, and once again front-line academics and non-management administrators are those primarily targeted. There are also, amongst other serious teaching cuts, significant reductions targeted at the Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI), the research area that performed the best of all areas across the university, and was awarded the highest accolade, in the recent REF.

In CASS the cuts are at least initially a lot less than in the other faculties. However, there is still a significant reduction in HPL hours premised, and, amongst other things, drastic cuts in teaching staff and course provision associated with environmental sustainability.

All in all, these massive staff cuts will further damage our university and its attractiveness to potential students. They will continue the spiral of decline we have been in as a result of previous rounds of staff and course cuts over recent years. Each round premised on protecting the university, and each round resulting in us sinking even deeper in the mire.

Therefore, even if your job is not one of those expressly targeted this year, there is every likelihood it will be in the near future. As such, whatever we do now to protect the jobs of our threatened colleagues, and the education provision for our students, will not just be about that immediate threat, but rather about the very survival of our institution and all of our jobs.

London Met UCU Coordinating Committee

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