University jobs at risk as three senior staff leave in bid to help balance books

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Three members of senior management are leaving a Devon university as some staff face redundancy and a warning has issued the budget will be in deficit for two years.

The University of St Mark and St John had planned to double student numbers by 2024 and was given £3 million in funding by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

It had plans for a number of new courses and expansion of its campus north of Plymouth. But accounts from last year suggest the university will be in deficit until 2019.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr Karen Cook, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Brendon Noble and Dr Liz Smith, Pro Vice-Chancellor responsible for learning, teaching and the student experience will leave the institution.

Plymouth Marjon University said in a statement: “Marjon has been privileged to receive Catalyst funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to support the development of new programme areas, including criminology, psychology and osteopathy, to enrich our learning and teaching and to enable the establishment of several centres of research excellence.

“Whilst these have become addition strengths in Marjon’s portfolio, there has been decline in demand for some other subject areas.

“A restructure of the university’s academic and professional service teams is now under way to ensure efficiency savings, and a tier of senior management will be leaving the university.”

Scheduled building works around the campus have continued. Vice Chancellor, Professor Rob Warner told The Herald: “We are very sorry to see some excellent staff leaving this summer, but in common with every higher education institution we need to ensure that our staffing profile is aligned very carefully to the future growth of the university”.

The governors’ finance committee have a potential solution to the institutions problems.

Minutes of a meeting in September show Marjon can survive with a varied approach to naming and marketing courses, and is sustainable even without expansion.

Prof Warner said: “Marjon continues to be committed to giving students a unique university experience which both challenges and supports them, and we are excited about our future development plans. This autumn we will launch a brand new student hub, bringing together all of our support services in one place, along with a new student bar and social space.

“Our students really appreciate the supportive network they have at Marjon across both academic and non-academic staff, and we are absolutely committed to ensuring they will always continue to enjoy a very high quality university experience.”