Stop the Planned Redundancies to protect the Student Experience

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Dear Gary Dixon, Professor Nishan Canagarajah and members of the University Council and Executive Board,

We the undersigned are students and elected student representatives at this University from across all academic disciplines who are writing to you to state our opposition to planned redundancies in the following academic schools and departments:

-          The School of Arts (English)

-          The School of Business

-          The School of Informatics

-          The School of Mathematics and Actuarial Science

-          The Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

-          Information Services and Operations – Library User Services (LLIS), Student Services Centre (SAS)

-          Education Services – Business Change Team (SAS), Education Strategy Unit (SAS), Leicester Learning Institute (LLIS), and Quality Office (SAS)

-          Estates and Digital Services Division – Estates Projects, Compliance, Assets Teams and the Reactive Maintenance Team

-          Learning Services – Academic Skills Centre (LLIS), AccessAbility (SAS)

-          Doctoral College and PGR Administration

-          Estates and Digital Services Division – Information and Technology Services

-          Research and Enterprise Administration

We believe the decision to announce these redundancies during a pandemic, where the anxieties of both staff & students are already at boiling point, is unfair to staff members, both academic and professional services, who have worked day and night to see to it that students are able to make the most of their learning in quite bleak circumstances. We also believe that there has been a huge lack of transparency on the part of University leaders on their reasoning behind this and that there are fairer, far less detrimental ways the University can make savings. 

From their invaluable role in the roll-out of ‘Ignite’, the facilitation of pastoral support services for students, ensuring safe and secure accommodation, to leadership on projects to decolonise the curriculum and close the awarding gap, it is undeniable that every staff member on the ground facing redundancy has played a huge role in trying to make learning safe, enjoyable and accessible to all students, as well as helping the University reach its long term goals. 

These plans only serve to worsen the student learning experience at the University of Leicester as it limits our academic freedom and choice, and where there are staff members who find themselves in insecure working conditions in the face of redundancy, that results in students finding themselves in an insecure learning environment, which is far from ‘shaping excellence’.

This also serves as an indictment of a marketised Higher Education (HE) sector where staff are treated as mere service providers and students as consumers. We are not numbers on a sheet. These are human beings who have families to feed and are integral to the student experience.

Reflecting on our concerns, we urge you to consider the following:

1.       Cancel all compulsory redundancies currently being proposed

2.       Consider alternative routes of funding to subsidise threatened staff member’s salaries:

a.       Reconsider the already proposed alternative routes of funding provided by the University & College Union (UCU)

b.       Those in the highest pay bracket and/or those who sit on Exec. Board take below inflation increases to help those at risk and ensure a fairer, less detrimental way to make savings

c.       University remuneration committee to reconsider Exec. Board/VC salary at the next meeting in accordance with its mandate and students’ request, to ensure that they are still affordable

d.       Consider structural change to remuneration committee to ensure that the student voice is represented and advocated for

3.       Protect the contracts of Casualised Workers

4.       Commitment not to make any new building contracts for the next five years

5.       Release any external data that was used to justify the redundancies (e.g. the DataHE report)

6.       Commit to advertising applicant days for all targeted schools and departments to ensure student recruitment is strong in schools at risk of cuts

7.       If these asks cannot be met, the Exec. Board will commit to providing an in-depth explanation into why they are unable to meet each one

In your own words, we are ‘citizens of change’ and believe it is incumbent on yourselves as University Leadership to buck this trend in the HE sector, and materially and tangibly recognise the contributions of staff members as well as the concerns of the student community. For the sake of the student experience at Leicester and to ensure the widest academic choice possible, we urge you to strongly reconsider these proposals.

We look forward to receiving a detailed response.