YouTube footage shows moment University of Wolverhampton tells staff of potential job losses

Footage has been shared on YouTube of the moment the University of Wolverhampton’s Vice Chancellor told staff in an online meeting that jobs could be lost.

The university announced in May that it would be suspending recruitment to 138 undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and in a bombshell meeting with staff and students, it was revealed the university had a £20m deficit and a 10 per cent fall in UCAS applications.

Interim Vice Chancellor Ian Campbell told lecturers at the university that there would be “no more than 500 staff redundancies” in May and launched a mutually agreed resignation scheme (MARS).

However, at an online meeting for staff on July 6, Ian Campbell announced that a new proposal could see “up to 250 staff members leaving the university”, with 100 of those leaving under MARS.

The interim Vice Chancellor also said that the university’s cash reserves had plummeted from £65m in 2018 to just £15m in 2022.

Addressing the university’s £20m deficit, Mr Campbell said: “We’ve therefore, as a University Executive Board, developed a proposal in order to try to ensure the university is fit for purpose in terms of size and shape as we move forward.

“Through new structures in faculties, schools, and departments, as well as in the ways that we are working, which if implemented, will sadly potentially see up to 250 colleagues leaving the university, of whom almost a 100 we anticipate leaving via the MARS scheme.”

The interim Vice Chancellor went on to say: “I do appreciate this is a lot of information to take in right now and this will likely come as a shock to colleagues.

“Changes that affect people are always the hardest to make. Rest assured, this proposal has not been put forward lightly.”

Justifying the decision, Mr Campbell said: “Student recruitment is proving extremely challenging at the moment, not only in this year, but also last year, where applications were down and enrolments are down.

“Partly of course driven by the impact of Covid-19, but not just that, also as a result of the composition of our student body as well.

“The decrease in student numbers, of course, also directly impacts on our income levels, which combined with spiralling costs and inflation, has contributed heavily to the challenging financial situation we find ourselves in.

“Facing into the £20m deficit that we will have at the end of this financial year, and in addition to that our cash reserves, which have depleted over a four year period from £65m in 2018 to £15m in 2022, in a nutshell, means that we have no safety net. It’s just not there anymore.

“So this really is a make or break moment for our university.”

An anonymous member of staff who is losing their job watched the online meeting and told the Express & Star: “Not giving us the chance to ask questions meant we couldn’t ask about how this is going to impact on our students.

“I’ve never even met the man and now I’m losing my job. I just watched it at home and it clicked off.

“When they sent the proposals through the scale of proposed job losses across the university, of course it’s going to impact the students. What have they done to deserve this?”

Dr Catherine Lamond, chair of the UCU negotiating committee at the university, said: “People are very upset and angry about how this has unfolded.

“He read off a prepared script, it lasted 13 minutes overall and people didn’t get the chance to ask questions. People said it was like the ‘P&O of universities’ where you got fired by a video link.

“It felt disrespectful to them, it’s like they’re not allowed to challenge or ask questions about it.”

A spokeswoman at the University of Wolverhampton said: “On July 6, our vice-chancellor announced proposals to reduce the number of staff the university employs, which could impact up to 250 university roles, including almost 100 colleagues whom we anticipate leaving through our Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS).

“Due to the size and dispersed nature of our staff base, the announcement was made at an all-colleague virtual briefing.

“Colleagues who are potentially impacted by these proposals have now been notified, and subsequently attended a further meeting to discuss how local proposals might affect them.

“We have entered a period of consultation with our trade unions, UCU and Unison, to discuss our proposals and explore alternative options.

“We are committed to meaningful consultation with our unions and treating our staff with dignity and respect throughout this process.”

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