Wolverhampton plans job cuts to tackle £20m deficit

Wolverhampton said “many similar modern universities” are struggling to recruit enough students to cover costs

As many as 250 jobs are at risk at the University of Wolverhampton after management announced it would suspend enrolment to over 100 courses.

The university confirmed that 150 roles are threatened with redundancy as it grapples with a £20 million deficit. That figure includes 100 staff who have opted to leave via a “mutually agreed resignation scheme”. The move comes as it suspends 138 university courses – in performing arts, fashion, social sciences, fine art and others.

The University and College Union opened strike ballots in May over the decision to cease recruitment to the degrees. The job losses far outpace the 20 jobs they had feared were at risk.

A spokesperson for Wolverhampton said the university was “committed to treating all staff with dignity and respect throughout this difficult time”. Those affected by the risk of redundancy would “enter a period of consultation in partnership with the university and the relevant trade unions”, they added.

The university attributes its challenges to the impact of Covid-19 and rising inflation. “At the same time, like many similar modern universities, student enrolments – and associated tuition-fee income – have been falling,” the spokesperson added.

Higher-tariff universities have increased enrolments in percentage and real-terms – while lower-tariff universities, of which Wolverhampton is one, account for less market share than a decade ago.

Lower-tariff universities accounted for nearly 43% of student enrolments in 2014 – but that has since dropped to below 38%. In the same time period, the market share of higher-tariff increased from 26% to 31%.

Senior leaders had been “transparent and open” about the challenges the University of Wolverhampton faced, the spokesperson continued. Wolverhampton UCU tweeted criticism of how interim vice-chancellor Ian Campbell, who took the role in January, announced the 250 job losses. “More Dr Who villain takes over local tv shop than ‘people person’ – our interim VC read from a 13 minute script (no questions, obv) before announcing 250 job losses,” adding a hashtag that read: “sacked on teams”.

Read more: UCU changes tactics in pursuit of national strike action

Photo via Flickr.

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