Communication from the VC in August 2009
I am writing to let you know the outcome of the University´s recent Voluntary Severance Scheme. As you know, this scheme was introduced in order to help bridge a significant gap between the University´s predicted expenditure and its income, during a time when public sector finances are under increasing pressure.
The purpose of the Voluntary Severance Scheme (VSS) was to reduce staffing costs, as part of a wider strategic plan that also involves increasing income and reducing non-staff costs across the University.
The Voluntary Severance Panel took into account comments from Faculties, Departments, and Professional Services. The full process of applications, offers and acceptances has been completed, and we now have almost the final picture in terms of those staff who will be leaving the University under the Scheme.
Around 320 staff (5% of our total staff) will be leaving the University over the next three months. Of these, 67 are academic/teaching staff, which represents 2% of our total academic/teaching staff, and the other leavers are in a variety of different support roles across the University. The members of the University Executive Board (UEB) are working closely with Heads of Department to support their teams to adapt to the changes resulting from staff departures.
Around £13M annual staff costs savings are likely to be achieved as a result of the VSS and these will go a long way towards achieving our target savings for staffing costs of £15M. The staff departures are inevitably spread somewhat unevenly across departments, and the UEB will be reviewing the impact of the agreed departures on our overall financial position, and considering some limited strategic re-investment, at the start of the coming academic session.
The higher education sector, along with other areas of the public and private sectors, is facing tough times ahead. However, I am confident that this University is now better prepared for the future. I recognise that there will be challenges in the short term as we adapt to the new staffing levels and to new and more flexible ways of working, including working across traditional boundaries. I am optimistic that we can adapt, and that we will grasp new opportunities and continue to take pride in our teaching, the high quality of the student experience and our research across the range of disciplines.
In the longer term, I believe we will find ourselves in a stronger position within a changed economic and political environment. We are a successful university with world leading research across the full range of disciplines and very positive feedback from our students. We need to capitalise on this position of strength in the coming years. Despite the recession, there are some exciting opportunities, both in the UK and globally, that we are actively pursuing in order to bring in new income and develop our academic activities.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the contribution of the 320 colleagues who have chosen to take up the VSS offer. Several of them have worked for the University for many years, and I´m sure will remain strong supporters. I am sure you will join with me in wishing them well for the future.