Kingston University students and staff members held a demonstration to raise awareness about lecturer grade cuts.
Students and staff members called for Kingston students to sign a petition in Penrhyn Road’s John Galsworthy courtyard this week, which would force the student union to hold an emergency meeting about staff grade changes.
Up to 265 jobs cut
Kingston student Ana Goncalves said: “We are gathering signatures because we want the student union to acknowledge the issue and actually hold an emergency meeting and actually raise awareness about this issue. We need 200 signatures from students and staff, we are getting a lot of support and we are almost there.
“I am here to show my support against the management proposals to cut up to 265 jobs at our University,” she added.
Threatened with demotion
Kingston University staff members will be lobbying the board of governors next Wednesday and have written them an open letter.
One of Kingston’s UCU goals is to raise awareness of the adverse consequences of the management proposals to cut 265 principal lecturer and reader titles.
Julian Wells, director of studies in the department of economics said: “I am one of the staff that is most directly affected because Director of Studies is a grade 10 post so I am one of the people who are invited to reapply for my job and threatened with demotion to grade nine if I don’t succeed.”
Currently there are 265 grade 10 staff, about 480 senior lecturers and about 80 lecturers at Kingston University.
According to Wells, management has indicated that 25 to 50 per cent of principal lecturers and readers who reapply to the new associate professor role will not be successful.
Wells said: “The Vice Chancellor’s vision appears to be to make Kingston more like an ‘elite’ university where lecturers spend more time doing research and less time teaching students. The other side of it is that more members of staff and less senior members of staff will find themselves doing more administrative work so that’s a squeeze from administration and a squeeze from the research on teaching time and concentration.”
Hope of agreement
The Academic Progression and Promotion proposals would see staff shake-up policies implemented by August. Grade 10 staff, principal lecturers and readers have 90 days to apply for new posts as associate professors or apply for voluntary severance or voluntary early pension, where they meet the eligibility criteria.
“The contact hours might reduce. It is just the attention and priorities if you are on the one hand side trying to churn out lots of papers to get published in journals and on the other hand you are filling in lots of forms dealing with the extensive bureaucracy that the University needs in order to run. The time you will have for preparing lectures, marking work and giving proper feedback diminishes,” Wells added during the demonstration on Friday.
A spokesperson of Kingston University said that no redundancies were being proposed and there was no planned decrease in the number of lecturing staff at any level as a result of this initiative.
Kingston Press Office said: “The University is aware that the trade unions have a number of concerns about the proposals and is having positive conversations with their representatives with the hope of reaching agreement on their main points of concern.
“The firm intention is to find a way forward which the Unions can sign up to and the University is willing to make changes to its proposals to achieve this.”