University of Manchester professors express no confidence in management over job cuts

Nearly 200 University of Manchester professors have signed a letter expressing no confidence in the institution’s management over plans to axe up to 171 jobs.

Bosses confirmed the proposals, which lest more than 900 staff facing uncertainty about their futures, last month.

The majority of jobs at risk are academic roles. Affected departments include the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, and the Alliance Manchester Business School.

News of a letter from staff to university chiefs has now emerged. Sent last week, it was signed by 198 professors, who said job losses were ‘unjustified’.

They said the cuts were ‘being imposed in an ill-considered way that will massively damage the morale of staff, their commitment to the university and its national and international reputation’.

Addressed to the university’s board of governors it read: “It is likely that the widespread damage to staff morale associated with the proposed redundancies will be detrimental to the student experience.”

The university is hoping to make cuts through voluntary redundancies, but hasn’t ruled out compulsory severance.

The professors’ letter reads: “The selection of staff ‘at risk’ of redundancy is based on narrow metric criteria.

“Individuals are now being panicked into taking voluntary severance because, if too few colleagues take the voluntary offer, the rump will get the bare statutory minimum.”

It concludes: “In consequence, we and a substantial number of other academics have no confidence in senior management.

“We have all invested significantly in our university and are concerned about the significant damage to internal staff morale and external reputation, which will follow inevitably if the board does not restrain the management.”

University of Manchester

The university said the proposed reduction of up to 171 posts equates to 1.5 per cent of the total workforce of 11,000.

Chair of governors Edward Astle has personally replied to all 198 signatories with his own letter saying that the university’s vice-chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell and her leadership team ‘have my and the board’s full support and confidence’.

Mr Astle added: “I fully recognise that some of these proposals will cause concern to some staff.

“To minimise the period of uncertainty, I am very supportive of the university’s efforts to proceed with consultation with the trade unions and to open a targeted voluntary severance scheme as soon as possible to avoid the need for compulsory redundancy if at all possible.

“I know that Nancy, her senior leadership team and other senior colleagues are more than willing to engage with members of the professoriate to discuss any detailed questions that you might wish to follow up on.”

The University and College Union (UCU) has previously said they believe there is no need for such mass redundancies because of the university’s ‘strong financial position’.

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