Union calls on university to ‘come clean’ on Magee job cuts

The Magee campus of University of Ulster.
The Magee campus of University of Ulster.

Unite the Union has called upon the authorities at Ulster University to ‘come clean’ over mooted job losses in the Department of Psychology at the institutions Magee Campus.

In the wake of budgetary cuts it has emerged that 1,250 student places and in excess of 200 staff jobs with be axed across all four campuses of Ulster University.

In a statement the university did confirm that the entire Department of Psychology will move to their Coleraine campus.

However Unite claims that staff have been informed that this will result in 14.5 job losses in the department at Magee and also that no proper consultation process has been launched.

Unite’s officer with responsibility for membership at the University of Ulster, Sean Smyth, raised concerns over the lack of clarity over the scale of job losses and faculty closures in the institution:

“While the blame for this situation lies squarely with the NI Executive who slashed this year’s funding by £8.6 million leaving management with no choice but to implement devastating closures and large-scale redundancies, the manner in which University of Ulster management has sought to roll-out the cuts is causing mounting concern among their workforce.

“Given the scale of job-losses, there is a legal requirement for management to issue a formal notice of consultation providing a business case of their plans. Despite our repeated requests, they have failed to provide this or to formally engage with staff or Unite representatives. Workers have been left in the dark over just how many jobs will be lost and the impact on the various faculties within the university.

“We are particularly concerned that plans for closure go way beyond those identified by the University in its public communications. For example, workers at the Psychology Department at the Magee campus were told that their unit will close at the cost of 14.5 redundancies.

“This is just one example of many cuts in posts across campuses and faculties where there has been a lack of information and transparency from management. Such closures make nonsense of commitments from political representatives that there would be no compulsory redundancies.

“Unite will be meeting our membership across the campuses to discuss our response; in particular, the option of balloting for industrial action to demand that management come clean on their plans”, Mr Smyth concluded.

Last week Ulster University says it was not in a position to give final figures on cuts to student places and jobs at any of the four campuses including Magee, until the voluntary redundancy process is completed.

However, despite the fall out over the £8.6 million cuts at the university, in a statement the Vice-Chancellor Paddy Nixon said: “No single campus can be protected from the impact of the cuts however Ulster University remains committed to realising the full potential of each campus, including Magee.

“Any expansion at the Magee Campus remains subject to a number of factors, including the demand from students, government releasing student numbers, available budget and the delivery of key infrastructure commitments by stakeholders across the region.”