Bosses have launched a swingeing attack on jobs and courses at Keele university. They want to axe 38 out of 67 academic staff in the Economics and Management Studies School to create a smaller “corporate style” business school.
Management claim the cuts and sackings are necessary because of three years of falling student recruitment following several years of strong growth.
They secretly drew up their closure plans and selected the staff they want to get rid of before the unions knew anything about it.
The UCU lecturers’ union fiercely disputes management’s figures. It also rejects their argument that the school is “failing” because it does not offer enough “attractive”, business-friendly courses.
The UCU argues that university bosses are putting profit before students, as many of the courses due to be axed are ones that “widen student participation”.
The cuts are also an attack on the UCU – several activists are on management’s hit list.
Despite the school being an internationally renowned centre for industrial relations and trade union study, university bosses see it as a chance to get rid of “troublesome” industrial relations staff.
This battle is a crucial test for the left-led UCU national executive in the battle against the neoliberal “marketisation” of universities.
On Friday of last week, the union’s Higher Education Committee committed itself to full support for whatever action members at Keele decide to take and called for a national UCU rally at Keele. A mass meeting of members is due to take place on 17 December.
Please send messages of support to Colin Whitston, UCU, c/o Economics and Management Studies School, Keele University, Keele, Staffs ST5 5BG, or email firstname.lastname@example.org