Sunday, 25 January 2009

Questions to London Metropolitan University Senior Managers

The following are an initial set of requests for information put to London Metropolitan University senior managers by the joint trade unions representing university staff:

With regard to financial issues:
Questions to the Director of Finance

Requests for the following:

• The accounts for 07/08

• Monthly returns stating the university’s position subsequent to April 2008

• The financial documents that accompanied the Strategic Plan sent to HEFCE.

• Figures for the sums paid out under PADAS (and to how many individuals?), bonuses (and to how many individuals?), various performance-related pay schemes (and to how many individuals in each one?) and market supplements (and to how many individuals?)

• How much was spent on outside consultants and which ones in 2007/08? What consultants are currently (2008/09) operating in the university? At what cost?

• A copy of the letter from HEFCE informing London Met management of its decision to reduce the grant by £18 million for 2009/10

• An urgent meeting with yourself to discuss the figures in the material above.

An explanation of the following:

• How HEFCE arrived at a figure of £18 million for 9/10 (is the figure linked to any projection of monies from student fees anticipated for 2008/09?)

Confirmation of the following:

• Whether it is correct to state that there will have been a combined shortfall of £33 million from HEFCE grants for 2008/09 and 2009/10 arising from HEFCE’s re-determination of London Met’s student figures and that this £33 million shortfall is separate from the £38 million that HEFCE allege the university should not have received for the preceding years, 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08?

• Whether HEFCE have or have not stated that they are minded to recover the full sum of £38 million for those preceding years?

• Whether HEFCE are currently imposing consultants to make decisions with regard to the future shape and structures of the university and if so, whether she could facilitate a meeting between these consultants and the unions?

• What avenues have been explored to increase revenue? What were the results?

With regard to University Strategy/Strategic Plan
Questions to the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic

Requests for answers to the following:

• Which parts of the strategic plan were accepted and which rejected?

• Whether the university was being required to submit a revised plan?

• Which parts of the strategic plan were approved by Price Waterhouse Cooper (consultants brought in by HEFCE) and which bits were not?

• Why, if the Strategic Plan was approved by PWC consultants (and this approval was a condition of it also being approved by the board of governors as stated by the DVC (Academic) at an earlier meeting), it was not accepted by HEFCE?

• Who at London Met was involved directly in the consultation and final drafting of the Strategic Plan that HEFCE appears not to have accepted?

• Why if HEFCE are not prepared at this moment to invest in the future of the university, the university is not prepared to use capital assets to fund such investment?

• Whether senior management have developed a strategic view of how the university will look in the future? Will management be looking to cut courses or sections or to maintain them all with fewer staff? Will all courses remain viable?

• What methods will senior management use to tap into staff expertise and to provide meaningful consultations with relevant staff on academic and professional matters?

With regard general staff issues and other external relations:
Questions to the Vice Chancellor

Requests for answers to the following:

• Given the stated level of financial crisis in your email of January 8th, when and by what means are you or the university executive proposing to meet staff?

• Could a timetable of such meetings with departmental staff (academic and professional departments) be put on ‘Message of the Day’?

• Has London Met management requested information from HEFCE or from other institutions regarding similar reductions in grant elsewhere in the sector?

• Have you any plans to meet DIUS ministers or local MPs or members of the Education Select committee?

• Have you any plans to meet other Vice Chancellors in London or beyond to develop a joint strategy in favour of fully funded higher education?

• Do you accept that at the time of credit crunch any cut in education provision is by definition unjustifiable? If so, how do you plan to take forward your own concerns and campaign in support of London Met and in support of fully funded education?

• Would you be willing to meet with national representatives of the NUS and a deputation of students from London Met?

With regard to staffing issues
Questions to the Director of HR

Request for the following information:

• Staff turnover, broken down into retirement, redundancy, voluntary severance and other reasons for 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08 and projections for 2008/09, 2009/10

• Numbers of hourly-paid staff (or estimates thereof) for 2007/08 and 2008/09

• Whether the 330 FTE redundancies mentioned to union representatives include the three recent redundancies in LGIR and the 15-18 FTE posts to be lost in the new Registry department?

• Whether there is a freeze on new appointments while current staff are under threat of redundancy? This freeze should include all posts not already offered to individuals, including those for which interviews are scheduled, those advertised this week in the Guardian and those advertised in previous weeks.

• Whether her department has carried out full impact assessments on all the proposed redundancies and job cuts?

• Whether her department is carrying out a full skills audit of the university to provide information for bumped redundancies, should this become necessary?

• Whether she is prepared to pursue with a sense of urgency negotiations on a university workload allocation model to which she agreed some time ago?

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