KU changes could force staff to leave, says union

New plans of reorganisation can scare KU lecturers off


Julie Hebenstreit


 Kingston University could lose some of its best lecturers if a planned reorganisation of staff is brought in later this year, according to union officials.


The Academic Progression and Promotion proposals, which are expected to come into force in August, could mean some higher grade lecturers face a pay freeze and potentially a pay cut running into thousands of pounds in the future.


The plans will see grade 10 staff – principal lecturers and readers having to apply for new posts as associate professors if they want to stay in their pay band. However, some may take advantage of early severance and retirement schemes which are on offer.


Dr Andy Higginbottom, chairman of the University and College Union (UCU), said: “The problem is that if the senior management proposals go ahead and they take grade 10 status away from 265 principal lecturers and offer them an early severance/early retirement package, then some will take it.


“We don’t know how many, but it can be anticipated a reasonable proportion. This will result in fewer staff at the KU campuses.


“It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Staff efforts are being downgraded. We want everyone to know about this. We want to resolve the issues before taking industrial action.”


The union claims that the job description for the associate professor role means that many principal lecturers, some of whom are doing administrative roles in the university, will be unsuccessful if they apply. The University will give staff five years at their current salary as well as any cost of living increases, to become qualified for the roles.


The proposals will also mean tougher requirements for lecturers to be promoted to senior lecturers.


Another consequence is that senior lecturers will be asked to do more administrative tasks, leaving the union fearing that lecturers are going to be overloaded with work and have less time for their students.


The UCU claim that the move is a gamble with the University’s future and is causing uncertainty and dissatisfaction among staff.


Kingston University has sent detailed proposals to staff and they are currently out for consultation with the union as well. It claims that the move will bring Kingston in line with the rest of the sector both internationally and in the UK.


The UCU said it welcomed changes at the University however, only those that are supportive and retain staff, without forcing them to make a decision in such a tight timescale.

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