King’s College London recently announced that plans for compulsory redundancies in the school of arts and humanities have been abandoned. However, a planned strike will continue due to further risk of various other staff redundancies within the University.
King’s had originally planned to cut 205 jobs across the University to save £27 million over the next two years. The University says this is due to the government’s disinvestment in higher education recently. However, the management at King’s College appears to have decided against the option for 22 redundancies in the arts and humanities school during a consultation last week. If these redundancies went ahead, it would abolish the UK’s only course in Palaeography, the study of ancient handwriting.
A King’s spokesman has said; ‘Other plans have been put forward, and we certainly hope there will be no compulsory redundancies’. University and College Union branch President, Jim Wolfreys, responded by saying that the changes had been won through ‘…pressure from the Union, but obviously from the wider community as well’.
It is now believed that the management is discussing voluntary severance packages with several of the academic staff at the University. However, University College Union (UCU) members want the management to avoid any compulsory redundancies in the University for any staff members. UCU said they first made these requests in February, and have now scheduled a two day strike on 5th and 6th May to put pressure on the management to stop any planned redundancies going ahead.
A public meeting took place with student campaigners and campus unions last week called ‘Defending Education at Kings’, where one of the speakers was Iain Pears, a novelist and journalist who has written about the King’s cuts. He has said that there were ‘Key figures in the management structure at King’s who really should consider whether they are suited to their roles in their administration’. He continued; ‘Universities are not businesses. It is good that they are not, and it is time to say so more forcefully’.
Another speaker at the campaign was Ronan Bennett, a novelist and graduate of King’s. In his speech he criticised the ‘secretiveness, arrogance and incompetence of management’. Staff in the school are now waiting for official confirmation of their position, but the UCU are confident that the strike will have a strong impact on the Universities decisions.
All details correct as of May 2010