Ulster University confirms jobs and student places cuts

The Magee campus of University of Ulster.
The Magee campus of University of Ulster.
  • Ulster University have announced that two departments will close completely
  • In all six academic disciplines are affected
  • 1,250 student places and 210 jobs will be cut

Ulster University has confirmed a series of cutbacks following an £8.6m cut in the subsidy received from the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) in June this year.

1,250 student places across the four university campuses will be lost as will over 200 staff posts.

In a statement this afternoon the university authorities say they have now determined “where and how these cuts will impact.”

Vice-Chancellor Paddy Nixon said: “The implications of the NI Executive budget cuts will have far reaching consequences for our young people and our local economy.

“We cannot absorb further cuts so now more than ever, we must be decisive. We must strengthen our focus on the sustainable delivery of high quality teaching and world-leading research that produces graduates with industry ready, relevant skills that benefit business and society.

“As a multi-campus institution, Ulster University faces particular considerations and our decisions reflect a strategic, longer term vision, not just for each campus but for the entire institution. Each campus will now have specific sectoral alignments, essentially becoming centres of expertise.

“Course closures were always inevitable and in addition to the courses and combination options already confirmed for closure in January of this year, a further 6 subject areas will be affected for 2016/17 entry.

“Not all of these will result in closure. Some of these subjects will transfer between campuses, consolidating provision and enhancing student opportunity. Only a small number will close in their entirety.

“In making these decisions, a number of factors have been taken into consideration, including student demand, attrition rates, student satisfaction, employment statistics and research performance.

“Consolidation of teaching provision across all faculties will facilitate the necessary reduction of staff numbers without impacting on the quality of teaching which remains paramount.

“This has not been an easy process, particularly for affected staff, many of whom have given many years of commitment to the University and our students. It is however, an opportunity for this institution to reinforce its position as we look to our future vision and growth opportunities.”

Professor Nixon added: “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 demand from students, government releasing student numbers (MASN), available budget and the delivery of key infrastructure commitments by stakeholders across the region.”

Staff are being briefed this afternoon about their future employment. The Departments of Interior Design and Modern Languages will close in their entirety. Other subjects identified for change are Marine Science, Computing, Maths and Business Management.

Reacting to the news, Sinn Fein MLA, Maeve McLaughlin said that local political parties need to stand together against continued Tory cuts to the Executive’s budget.

“I am very disappointed that the University of Ulster is preparing to announce job losses at Coleraine and Magee and that entire departments are to be scrapped.

“The education of our young people is vital to the future prosperity of our society and it needs to be properly resourced.

“However, the continued Tory cuts to the Executive’s budget is impacting on our ability to deliver front-line public services and social protections.

“I am calling on the local political parties to get back to the task of tackling the real issues facing all our people, by standing together in opposition to Tory austerity and in defence of our front-line public services and the welfare state.”

SDLP party spokesperson on Employment and Learning, Pat Ramsey MLA said: “While I agree with the University’s assessment that these job losses are connected directly to failures at the Assembly but those are failures of the DUP and SF, who even today, as families come to terms with this news, still refuse to make the Executive work.

“Make no mistake this announcement, is the result of DUP and SF failure to come to an agreement on the budget.

“There will been job losses in the language, journalism and media, history and business departments. This follows the closure of the creche at Magee and other similar announcements over the last two years.

“But yet again Ulster University has targeted only the campuses West of the Bann.

“The question I have for Ulster University is, if, as I understand it these departments have a very strong record of academic achievement and project delivery, why target these for downscaling?

“I will be asking the DEL Minister, for whom I have much sympathy as this crisis was not of his making, to outline the business case for these decisions.

“I am also concerned that those offers of voluntary redundancy were made only to departments earmarked for staff losses.

“If jobs are to be lost surely it makes sense to offer that package to the entire faculty, in order that those working within the mentioned departments may have a chance to be reassigned within the University.

“Sometimes I wonder how serious other partners are in the development of Magee as a ‘going’ never mind ‘growing’ concern.”