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UCU response to proposed cuts at Ulster University

September 2, 2015

Staff at Ulster University have now been informed of the university management’s initial proposals in response to the cuts to Higher Education funding from Stormont announced in June. A period of consultation between the University management and the trade unions will begin soon, and UCU’s priority during this time is the avoidance of compulsory redundancies and protection of jobs.

Anthea Irwin, President of the Ulster University local association of UCU, said, ‘The Stormont cuts to the Higher Education budget are devastating. To see Higher Education, as some do, as somehow less vital to society and economy than other sectors, is to completely miss the point. What future is there for our society, and how is our economy to grow, if we do not educate our young people to be independent thinkers and skilled practitioners? This point could not be more pertinent than in Northern Ireland as it continues to emerge from its troubled past, and remains a low wage economy where average earnings are only 81% of those in the rest of the UK.

‘But those budget cuts have been made, and the University’s responsibility now is to deal with them in such a way that protects as many jobs as possible and causes the least detrimental effect to our future generations of young people and to the staff involved in their education.

‘UCU is saddened that the current proposals do not do this. Management have introduced what they are calling a ‘voluntary severance’ package, yet entire subject areas are being closed, and significant proportions of staff are being cut in targeted areas, so many of the redundancies will not be voluntary in any real sense, and the breadth of curriculum we offer to our young people is under threat.

‘We hope to work constructively with our management in responding to the devastating Stormont cuts, but this can only happen where there is a sincere commitment on all sides to avoid any redundancies that are not truly voluntary and where management engages in a genuine consultation with the trade unions about how this can best be achieved.’

ENDS
Contact: Anthea Irwin, UCU at Ulster president a.irwin@ulster.ac.uk 07742889802

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