Lecturers at the University of Brighton will protest against clearing this year, as part of a campaign to stop mass redundancies. Clearing takes place on A-Level results day and is a key route for prospective students to gain a University place for the coming year. But this year, staff will picket the University and will take to social media to advise students not to sign up to study at Brighton.

Dr Ryan Burns, a senior lecturer and secretary of the UCU trade union branch, said, “It’s a very sad situation to be in. In previous years during clearing, I would tell prospective students about how great their course would be and how much they would enjoy studying at Brighton. But with our university management forcing through over 100 redundancies this year, many staff feel they cannot currently in good conscience encourage people to study here”.

The UCU branch have released the following statement:

“Our message to prospective students is that they should look elsewhere. Management at the University of Brighton cannot be trusted to maintain educational standards in the current circumstances.

Nearly 100 members of staff have already been forced out through redundancy processes in the last few months, with more planned. At the same time, the University plans to increase student numbers this year. This will leave Brighton with an even worse student-staff ratio, which is already one of the very worst[1] in the country.

Rather than work with the trade union to find ways to mitigate these redundancies, this University’s management seem determined to drive through job cuts no matter what.

Our advice to prospective students who call the clearing hotline on Thursday is to ask about class sizes and ask for a guarantee that the modules listed on the course website will actually run. Cutting staff means that something will have to give next year, and the inevitable result for new students in October will be increased class sizes and modules being cancelled”.

If students do sign up to study at Brighton, then they can except disruption before term even begins. Members of UCU are currently engaged in an indefinite strike with the aim of forcing management to call off the remaining redundancies. Dr Burns said, “Our message is clear: we will not go back to work while over 20 of our colleagues still face compulsory redundancies. The University could call off these jobs cuts any time. Unless they do so, then UCU members will not go back to work at the start of term. The academic year will not start unless these redundancies are called off”.

The University of Brighton initially planned to make 80-97 people redundant. Even though more than 80 applications for voluntary redundancy have been accepted, a further 22 members of staff are now facing compulsory redundancy.

The University management’s decision to make these massive job cuts means that UCU has declared an international academic boycott of the University of Brighton. This is the harshest academic sanction available to the union and shows the seriousness of the situation.

In response to the initial announcement of redundancy plans, a vote of no confidence in the Vice Chancellor and senior management showed that 94% of staff and students do not support the way the University is being run.

Dr Burns added, “we all thought that such a massive vote of no confidence would force the University management to stop and reconsider their actions. Shockingly, they have doubled down, and are now forcing through so many compulsory redundancies that they will actually exceed their initial target. We believe that our continued action and the massive amount of support from current students will ultimately force management to concede that their plans had gone too far, and to call off the remaining redundancies”.

Notes for Editors

University and College Union (UCU) is the biggest union in post-16 education in the UK. It represents over 130,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK. At University of Brighton it represents staff on academic grades – lecturers, researchers and professors.

Images available to use with credit “University of Brighton UCU” – https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0rfcnu5148z70k6/AAAgaE6R9XqbpNM2mVOWwbkka?dl=0

[1] https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/universities/university-of-brighton

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