Last week the Vice Chancellor announced a three year financial plan in order to secure its long term financial sustainability. He stated that if the University takes no action they face a £4.6 million deficit in the next financial year, which would grow in each of the following years. Their plan is to launch a large scale voluntary severance scheme for staff, around several times as large as the scheme which was launched before Christmas. They also intend to grow their recruitment of International, postgraduate and foundation year students in order to generate income. You can read more about that and see the published plan here.
We are concerned that growing student numbers and reducing staff support runs the risk of a significant reduction in the quality of the student experience and will add additional pressure to the University’s already overworked staff.
We have been working with Trade Unions and senior University staff to build up a better understanding of what detail of the University’s financial situation and their plan.
An unprecedented emergency meeting of all Campus unions (UCU, KPA and KeeleSU) was called on 06.03.2019 to discuss the VCs Address laying out the University's 3 year financial sustainability plans. Whilst it was not possible to pass a formal motion due to the joint nature of the meeting, the overwhelming majority of those in attendance determined the following:
to oppose the imposition of staff cuts
to challenge the case put by the University to justify its proposals;
to call for more information, data and clarity on the financial rationale for cuts to staffing which would inevitably lead to a loss of morale and a diminished student experience;
to call for senior management to demonstrate that we are all in this together by taking immediate salary and associated benefit reductions;
for the named Campus unions to continue collective action in response to the University's financial sustainability plan.
The Unions of Keele are committed to ongoing solidarity and collaboration, to consulting with members and to fighting for the best outcome for Keele Staff and students.
We will be making a number of requests on behalf of the student body, such as that student support services be protected from cost saving efforts and ensuring the status of postgraduates who teach is protected.
Our next steps will be to hold a number of listening events, in which students will be able to come and talk to us about their specific concerns. The first of these will be at Midday in the MARS room on Tuesday the 12th.
I will be using that and online engagements to take some draft proposals to Union council on Thursday of this week which will be ratified at our Union General Meeting - which all students can attend on the 21st of March. We will also continue meeting with representatives from Trade Unions and the University to discuss the issue moving forward.