StAAR – Setting out the Facts 1

Some will be aware that Unison’s decision to go into dispute over StAAR led to some reporting in the local media and supportive comments from the local MP Naz Shah. Read the Telegraph and Argus article.

As one would expect, the University was quick to go to print to “set the record straight” although it is interesting to note that their “Setting Out the Facts” article was not offered to the local press as a full response despite asserting in the response that there were some factual inaccuracies.

So – let’s start with the first assertion that the review is “aimed at improving processes that support the student journey from enrolment through to graduation with the aims of improving the student experience, improving the quality of our student data and ensuring that we are operationally more efficient.”

No mention here of saving money, despite the fact that the review comes at a time of ongoing financial difficulty brought about by an ideological and dogmatic adherence to recruitment policies that are seriously damaging our recruitment performance.

The review is heavily reliant upon the implementation of technologies to streamline processes – something that the University has singularly failed to do on numerous occasions; restructuring without successful introduction of those technologies will serve only to increase workload for those that survive the cuts.

Job losses seem inevitable – the new structure is clearly designed to reduce the overall number of posts.   The report gave figures to those reductions of 30 posts (18 FTE’s) which the University disputes, arguing that the review is still ongoing and changes may be made.   Further, the University argues that “the review does not know at this stage if a reduction in posts would result in any actual redundancies, since some members of staff may be redeployed elsewhere in the University or the reduction may be achieved through natural wastage.”

All well and good, but as every area of the University is under review and that largely that is resulting in staffing reductions, it is difficult to imagine that redeployment is the answer.   The suggestion that redundancies will be voluntary or reductions made via natural wastage is also to some extent a moot point.   Being painted into a corner where the only options are MARS or some other “voluntary” package is redundancy by any other name.

For the record, UCU fundamentally opposes compulsory redundancy.

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