Thursday, 23 April 2009

UCU Ballot Special Newsletter & Some questions to ask managers during 'consultations'

UCU Ballot special:

• Why has this meeting been called at this time (in the middle of teaching when many of the affected staff cannot be present) and at such short notice? What about members of staff who are teaching or otherwise engaged? How will they get a chance to participate in meetings?

• What is the status of this meeting? What is the process for amending the departmental plan? What happens if those changes reduce the need for job losses? Are you allowed to alter the total number of job losses in the department?

• Who was consulted in the drafting of the plan? Academic Committee? Departmental teaching committee? Course leaders? Course teams and staff? Students?

• Can we see your impact assessments for all the equality duties? Have you carried out similar assessments for students? [By law, the University has a positive duty actively to promote equality. Any change, policy or procedure must be subject to a full, written impact assessment to ensure that it complies with the legal duties]

• How will these changes affect University compliance with the DDA [Disability Discrimination Act]? With student support services being cut, will we be expected to pick up the extra work, especially on DDA issues? How is the department going to ensure that we – as individuals and collectively as a department - are not liable in law for any shortcomings in provision?

• Is the plan based on predictions of rising or falling student numbers? Why? [The University has assumed that it will not be allowed to return to our ‘allocated’ student numbers. They can show no evidence that HEFCE intends to penalise us this way. There are indications that demand for education is rising]

• What measures do you intend to take to improve both recruitment and retention of students? How are these measures reflected in the departmental plan?

• Have you considered a commitment to first year teaching (additional contact) for 'at risk' students? How would increased, or better, use of weblearn etc. improve this?

• Have you consulted professional bodies generally and/or re. specialised courses requiring intensive teaching (CPE/LPC/Accountancy etc)?

• What impact will the cuts have on staff-student ratios? How are you calculating staff-student ratios? How will the changes be accommodated? By larger classes? Less contact time for students?

• If people are being made redundant, then it must, by law, be because that work is no longer required. Does this mean that all those modules will not run? What are the implications for next year and the year after? Students are involved in programme-planning now: what if they choose modules that are about to be cut? What about modules that are core to particular courses? Will courses need to be revalidated?

• Where cuts are achieved through non-replacement of staff who leave, who will carry out their work? Are you expecting workloads to increase for those who remain? If so, will this not put the university in breach of contract? If not, how will the work be covered?

• Where you talk about HPLs being ‘deleted’, why are you not counting these as redundancies? Are you going to try to over the work of full-time members of staff with badly-paid HPLs? What will that do to retention and quality?

• Have you considered the impact on widening participation and community-based learning (i.e. moving law away from Ladbroke, cutting Foundation courses, dismissing widening participation staff)?

• Why are post-graduate courses being hit at all given that they are unaffected by HEFCE funding?

• What will be the effect of cuts on international recruitment, particularly re. postgraduate courses? What evidence do you have to support your view?

• Have you considered the knock-on impact on recruitment of deletion of pre-degree courses? What is the evidence?

• What areas of growth could be developed consequent upon the ‘credit crunch’ or recession? Now that unemployment is rising and more people are applying for university what are we doing to attract them to London Met?

• How will the Business School make use of the £400,000 recently granted by DIUS? Does it not affect the departmental plan? Will it be used to save or create jobs (£400,000 = 8 posts)? Will those jobs be ring-fenced for people being redeployed?

• What consideration have you given to those courses that are distinctive, or have a particularly high profile (that form our USP?) Are you offering special protection for these? If not, what calculations have you made of the effect it will have on the department in terms of reputation and recruitment?

• How will this plan affect research? If workloads are set to rise, how can staff maintain their research?

• What will happen to research staff? If research fellows are dismissed or not replaced when they leave what will happen to third stream income?

• How will you decide whose application for voluntary redundancy to back? If someone whose post is not on the list of deletions applies, will you support it? How do you propose to handle the question of ‘bumped’ redundancies?

• When the redundancy policy refers to a pool of posts, how will you decide who to dismiss? Who will decide? How will you ensure that the process is fair?

• How many middle management posts are being cut? How many senior managers are at risk?

• How will the ratio of ‘management’ to ordinary staff be affected by the cuts? What will be the implications of this for FST? For workloads generally? For real staff – student ratios? How do you justify this balance?

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