DEFEND YOUR STUDENT EXPERIENCE
As you might have heard, UCA is planning to reduce its spending by around £5m in the 19/20 academic year. We want to represent your views to the university once they are available. It’s important we hear from as many students as possible so we know how you think you might be affected.
These documents contain the ‘business cases’ for each department of UCA that is affected by the budget cuts. Each case has been compiled by senior members of that department. The business cases detail how the departments will reduce staff and other costs, in order to meet targets they have been set by the Leadership team. They are currently drafts, subject to feedback from staff and students, and will be finalised on 29 May. You can submit feedback at ucasu.com/haveyoursay which will be collated by UCASU staff and submitted to UCA’s Leadership team.
New Questions and Answers – 17 May 2019
The following is a student Q&A presented to us by Alan Cooke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Corporate Resources) on behalf of UCA’s Leadership Team. We have put a * next to questions/answers which are aimed more towards staff than students:
As the consultation process has progressed, we have received a range of different questions from staff. These have been compiled below, alongside answers, as a reference for all staff.
|Question||UCA’s answer||UCASU Commentary|
|Will courses close as a result of the proposals?||Any course closures and suspensions (that have been agreed as part of normal University business) would not impact on continuing students.
There are no proposed course closures or suspensions or changes to courses in the FE or HE Business Cases. Nor are we proposing to ‘merge’ courses.
|There has been some uncertainty about whether courses would be closing, because the Course Leader roles are expected to be replaced with a smaller number of Programme Directors that oversee multiple courses. This doesn’t mean that those courses will be combined or disappear, but should mean that the workload of several Course Leaders will be taken on by one Programme Director. The university has stated that courses will not close, suspend, or merge as part of this process.|
|Could the University have responded earlier to the demographic shifts that now see us competing for fewer 18-year-olds?||The University has been responding to the market conditions for several years. Additions and changes to our portfolio have been made in response, but in the past six years there have been many new entrants in to the market – generalists and private providers seizing upon creative arts markets and reducing our market share. At the same time the market for creative arts has declined as the school curriculum has squeezed out creative arts subjects in favour of STEM.||Though UCA knew of the coming ‘demographic dip’ in 18-year-olds, new creative arts courses and institutions opening in the UK means that there is more competition for students at the same time, which makes it more difficult to maintain consistent student numbers.|
|Why is the International Studies Department not being asked to make savings?||The expenditure of the International Studies Department is scrutinised in the same way as other departments on a monthly basis and the budgets are regularly reviewed by the Leadership Team.
The current staffing structure has been substantiated and agreed as a response to the expansion and success of the department in generating income.
|The Leadership team has stated its intention to recruit more International students to improve income and so savings from this department would be counterproductive to that goal.|
|How can we ensure that we are equipped to support growing numbers of international students?||The support of all students whether home, EU or overseas is very important to the University. All departments have been asked to review the implications and future support associated with an increase in overseas student numbers. Action has already been taken to provide student support and as proposals come forward to the Leadership Team in due course, they will be considered.||An increase of International students coming to UCA will require a serious process of Internationalisation, which might naturally include providing some resources in several languages, or training staff to be culturally competent and meet International students’ needs. This is a challenge UCA will have to face if International recruitment is a financial priority.|
|Will pay protection apply if staff take a role that sees them reducing their hours?||No – pay protection only applies when staff take a role at a lower grade than their current position.||“Pay protection” means no change to current pay. Staff given roles with fewer hours may receive lower pay. Staff who take new roles at a lower pay grade than their current role however will have their current pay protected.|
|When will staff know what vacancies they can apply for?||Details of all vacancies, and staff eligibility to apply for them, will be communicated once the Business Cases are finalised. We anticipate details of specific job roles and opportunities to be shared w/c 10 June 2019.||Once the feedback from staff and students has been received and considered, the business cases can be edited to reflect this input. Once the editing is complete, the final and confirmed business cases will state definitively which positions will be available.|
|I don’t agree with the approach taken by the Business Case author for my School / Department. What can I do?||There is an opportunity for staff and teams to put forward alternative business cases or options to meet the savings required by the University and Department. Please ensure any counter proposals are formally submitted to the business case leads during the consultation process.
Feedback and recommendations will be assessed by the Leadership Team prior to the issue of the final business case.
|Staff and students have the option to offer feedback on the proposed “business cases” until Wednesday 22 May. Students can submit feedback to UCASU to be compiled and presented to the Leadership team. You can do this by providing feedback on individual business cases here. Staff can propose changes or alternative savings to the lead person responsible for their department’s “business case”.|
|*When will we know what posts we can apply for?||Once the TUs have confirmed their decision on the pooling options, the redeployment process can be confirmed. When the business case is finalised, selection pools and jobs that individuals in those pools can apply for will be made clear and role profiles will be published on the University Business Case pages on the portal.||This is a repeat of the question before last, but with more specific detail.|
|*Will staff going under MARS be paid for outstanding holiday as well as PILON (pay in lieu of notice)?||No, any holiday outstanding at the time of leaving will be included within the PILON (pay in lieu of notice) payment.||MARS stands for ‘Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme’ and is a system for staff to vacate their post, in agreement with the university. Any staff doing this with untaken annual leave days will not receive additional payment for unclaimed holiday.|
|*Will previous service elsewhere be counted in the calculation of a) redundancy and b) MARS.||Previous continuous service in other organisations which are covered by the Redundancy Modifications Order
https://seemp.co.uk/free-resources/modification-order-information/ may count towards your redundancy calculation, and also MARS, if it is continuous*. If you have previous service that you think may qualify, you should obtain written confirmation from that employer of your dates of service, and also that they were covered by the Redundancy Modifications Order at that time.
*A break in service would be any break of 7 days or more.
|*Will the ‘trial periods’ following an offer of suitable alternative employment be the same for everyone?||Yes, trial periods will end on 30th November 2019 for all those who are offered suitable alternative employment.|
|*Can I see the Settlement Template before applying for MARS?||Yes, this is currently being prepared and will be made available on the Business Case pages on the portal.|
|*Can I get a pension estimate?||A resignation under MARS does not trigger the early release of pension, it is a ‘voluntary retirement’. Therefore pension estimates are available through the pension websites in the normal way.
If you are given notice of redundancy, over 55 and are in the LGPS scheme, a pension estimate can be requested from the LGPS via HR.
|*If I’m made redundant or leave under MARS, can I be re-employed?||An individual will not be prohibited from future employment with the University (either directly or as a consultant), provided that there is a break in service of at least 3 months, and the new role is significantly different from the one previously held.
The 3 month break in service applies to employment by some other Universities and other local government related employers.
|*Will I have to pay back PQ funding if redundant, or if I leave under MARS?||No|
|Why am I at risk of redundancy when all that is changing is my job title?||Although some posts are not changing, the postholders are ‘at risk’ of redundancy because there will be a diminished requirement for work of the kind that they perform in the University. Hence everyone that is performing the same or similar roles has been put ‘at risk’, and will need to re-apply for the remaining roles, and compete where there is more than one applicant for a role. This is a very common method of selection for redundancy, known as a process of ‘positive’ selection rather than ‘negative’ selection.||Some job titles have been changed to reflect new priorities – for example, sessional staff have been replaced with ‘Teaching Assistants’. So although these roles might be largely the same, the title has been changed to show that this role plays a different part in the University’s structure. The number of roles with the same titles might be reduced, so people may have to re-apply for their roles and be selected from a pool of applicants.|
|If my post is reducing from 1.00fte to 0.8fte, can I be slotted in or will I need to reapply?||You will need to re-apply. Any role that is reducing or increasing by 20% or more has been put ‘at risk’ of redundancy as the new hours may not be a ‘suitable alternative’ role for the role-holders, and in some cases, roles are not changing but staff have been put ‘at risk’ because there is a reduction overall in the requirement for work of the kind they do. In both cases, staff will need to re-apply for roles within the pool they are placed in.
People will only be ‘slotted in’ where they meet the essential criteria and are the only applicant for a role, or there are sufficient roles for all applicants..
|FTE stands for ‘full-time equivalent’ and a person working full time (normally 35-40 hours) would be considered 1.0 FTE.
Roles that have reduced hours have been identified by their department’s business case lead as being less essential. This means people will be expected to re-apply because hours for people of their role are being reduced overall, not only that individual’s role.
|Will the updated Senior Lecturer/Lecturer role profile be issued to all in this role?||Yes, it is intended that the updated role profiles for these roles will be given to all staff in these roles.|
|Will staff on fixed-term contracts be eligible to apply for roles within the ring-fenced pools?||Yes, in order to ensure that they are not treated less favourably than permanent staff, those on fixed-term contracts who are affected will be eligible to apply for ring-fenced roles in the same way that permanent staff can.||Staff who are only contracted to work at UCA for a limited time will have an equal opportunity to apply for upcoming roles as permanent staff will.|
|*Is overseas travel going to be a compulsory requirement of all Programme Directors?||Overseas travel will be a requirement of the new roles. If someone meets the other essential requirements of the post but is unable to comply with this requirement, reasonable adjustments will be considered dependent on the individual’s circumstances.||The new Programme Directors will be required to travel overseas when necessary, unless agreed on an individual case by case basis.|
Your questions answered by UCA’s Leadership team
The following is a student Q&A presented to us by Alan Cooke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Corporate Resources) on behalf of UCA’s Leadership Team.
In response to questions raised by UCASU, as well as those asked by students in the ‘Stop UCA Staff Cuts’ petition, UCA’s Leadership Team (comprising the most senior managers at the university) have written their explanation of why these cuts are happening now, and how they’ve come about.
The Board of Governors, the highest decision-making board within the university, made it a priority this year for UCA to make significant budget savings, in order to protect its future. One of the major reasons why this saving is needed is because there are going to be fewer 18-year-olds applying to universities over the next few years. This is because in the early 2000s there was a dip in UK births and so there will be fewer 18-year-olds in the UK for the next few years. Until that dip in the population ends, universities in the UK can expect fewer applications from UK students. UCA also expects an increase in applications from International students due to targeted International recruitment, which will have a positive impact on UCA’s financial income.
Financial sustainability at UCA
Following the Vice-Chancellor’s recent announcement that UCA is seeking to reduce its staffing and operational costs in response to increased financial pressures, we have received a range of student feedback.
The table below provides a summary of the questions we’ve been asked. By sharing the answers with all students, we hope to deepen understanding of the financial environment we are operating in.
|Question||UCA’s Answer||UCASU Commentary|
|Why is it necessary to save £5 million?||The costs of running a university have spiralled in recent years, with staff pension costs and other operating costs rising rapidly.
Alongside this, demographic trends mean that there are less 18-year-olds coming to university than ever before. We are recruiting less students and our income from tuition fees is falling accordingly. There is no Government safety net to fall back on – the only way we can mitigate this drop in fee income is through making savings.
|Of the £5 million planned savings, £3.5 million is intended to be made through ‘staff savings’. This means the university will reduce their spending on staff salaries by £3.5 million. This could be done in a number of ways: some positions could be made redundant, some vacancies may be held vacant for longer than usual, some staff may have reduced hours or have their role changed to encompass work that was previously done by more than one person. These are some examples of how the savings might be made, although there are additional options available to the university.
The other £1.5 million in savings is expected to be made through other areas of UCA’s budget, including not offering staff a cost of living increase until next academic year.
Another cost they mention is pensions – this is because from September 2019, employers must contribute more to Teacher Pensions. The contribution will go up from 16.48% to 23.68%.
|Is it true that 100 staff will be made redundant?||No. this is speculation based on a comment made by a member of staff at a recent campus presentation. It has no basis in fact.||Until the ‘business cases’ (meaning, the specific plans for how to make savings) are made public, we do not know how many staff will be affected through either job losses or changes. The figure of ‘100 staff’ was not an official figure from the Leadership Team, but was an estimate that staff had calculated, based on the figure of £3.5 million in staff savings.|
|Could we not postpone investing in buildings and infrastructure?||Universities are currently competing for fewer students, so it is important that we continue to offer the same high-quality facilities that students have come to expect.
Without investment in our campuses, we would no longer be attractive to prospective students and this would seriously jeopardise our long-term sustainability and resilience.
|Why is the University placing emphasis on recruiting international students?||International students have always made an important contribution to our campuses. The creative industries are global in scope, and learning alongside peers with different cultural backgrounds is an important step in preparing students for their future careers.
In today’s difficult UK student recruitment climate, the fee income provided by international students is essential for many institutions’ survival. UCA, like many other universities, is focussing on recruiting international students to prevent a significant shortfall in income.
|Will teaching be impacted by staff cuts?||As we restructure our academic course teams, we will be protecting staff to student ratios to ensure that students continue to receive the same levels of tuition that they’ve enjoyed in the past.
Protecting teaching and learning will be integral throughout this process. But unfortunately there will simply be less students to teach in September 2019, meaning that we do need to look at our staffing to see where savings can be made.
|We have asked the Leadership Team how they’re going to protect the staff:student ratio at UCA (the number of staff compared to the number of students), so that students’ academic experience and wellbeing is not affected. They say that UCA will have fewer students in 2019/20 and so the staff savings are proportionate. This is an area that we are particularly keen to monitor, and welcome student feedback on so that we can represent your specific concerns to the university.|
|Will the consultation period be extended, given the Easter break?||Yes, following discussion with the Trade Unions, the University has extended the consultation period until the 22 May.|
|Will the student experience suffer?||All Heads of School and Directors of Departments have been asked to do everything in their power to minimise the impact on the student experience as they restructure their specific areas.
We are aware that there are particular concerns about the impact on services designed to support students with mental health difficulties. This is being taken into account as proposals are developed.
|The Leadership Team have acknowledged that we, and you, are concerned about how the staff savings could affect student experience. We cannot know exactly what this impact might be, until we have been able to see the business cases. Our role throughout this process will be always to speak on behalf of students, to represent your interests, and make sure you are getting the best experience possible at UCA. This means we want to defend your student experience and challenge any decisions we believe do not have UCA students’ best interests at heart.|
I hope this provides some additional context around the financial challenges UCA faces and the steps we need to take to address them. As we develop restructure proposals we will share these with the Students’ Union and ensure that student feedback informs the consultation process.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Corporate Resources)
On behalf of UCA’s Leadership Team
We will keep you updated with all the progress on this situation here, including communications between us and the University, and any developments regarding the budget cuts.
UCA Extend Consultation Period until Wed 29 May
The following is an email sent out by Angela Fisher (Director of Human Resources), detailing the extension of the Business Case Consultation period. As a result of this extension, we will now be collecting student feedback via the form until Wednesday 29 May, at which point the information will be collated and presented to the Leadership Team.
I am writing to update you regarding some changes to the timescale for the Business Case consultation process, and also to answer some of the frequently asked questions that have been posed by staff. All of this information is also available on the staff portal and I would encourage you to use this for all the latest information relating to the University Business Case: https://staff.uca.ac.uk/university-business-case/
In addition to the staff portal, we will also be issuing major Business Case Updates via staff email, as requested by the Trade Unions at the last JCNC meeting.
To allow more time for feedback and MARS applications, deadlines have been revised as follows:
- The individual consultation process (due to end on Wed 22nd May) is extended until noon on Wed 29th May. This aligns the process for the individual and collective consultation with the Trade Unions.
- The MARS date is extended until the same time and date, noon on Wed 29th May (previously Wed 22nd May).
- Mon 3rd Jun the MARS panel meets to review applications.
- Monday 10th June staff to be advised of outcome of MARS applications
- Week commencing Monday 10th June final business cases issued to staff.
Redundancy Modifications Order
Many staff have asked whether previous service counts for the purposes of redundancy, and also for MARS. Previous continuous service in other organisations which are covered by the Redundancy Payments (Continuity of Employment in Local Government, etc) (Modification) Order 1999 does count towards your redundancy calculation, and also MARS, but only if there is no break in service. Further information can be found here https://seemp.co.uk/free-resources/modification-order-information/. If you have previous service that you think may qualify, you should obtain written confirmation from that employer of your dates of service, that they are covered by the Redundancy Modifications Order, and that you did not receive a Redundancy payment from them. A break in service would be any break of 7 days or more running from a Sunday to Saturday.
MARS settlement template
If you are considering an application for MARS but would like to see the MARS Settlement Agreement template before applying, this is now available on the staff portal here https://webdocs.ucreative.ac.uk/Precedent-Settlement-Agreement-FINAL-1558426800097.pdf
A reminder that advice and support is available to staff affected through a new Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) https://my-eap.com/, using the organisation code ‘UCAwell’.
Also myToolkit for Change available on myLearning and Development provides lots of helpful resources, and drop-in sessions continue on all campuses through May, June and July. Further details and dates can be found here: https://webdocs.ucreative.ac.uk/myToolkit_for_Change_leaflet_intranet-1556699880015.pdf
Estimates for Redundancy and MARS
Just a reminder that you can obtain your own estimate of Redundancy by using the ready reckoner on the staff portal https://staff.uca.ac.uk/university-business-case/redundancy-payment-calculator/ .
You can also use this for an estimate of the payment you would receive under MARS, but remember to add on £1500. Redundancy estimates for all staff at risk are being sent out by HR this week.
Feedback on the Business Case
Those affected by the University Business Case should continue to submit their comments and feedback to their Business Case Lead. Any questions relating to the process or individual terms and conditions should be sent to HR via consultation@UCA.ac.uk.
Student Action Regarding Budget Cuts
Over the past few weeks, we have noticed a high number of students interested in the UCA budget cuts that will be coming into effect before the next academic year. We’ve had students approach us with their concerns which led to the creation of the ‘Stop UCA Staff Cuts’ petition in April, which has now surpassed 2200 signatures after a huge influx of signatures this week, and students are now organising demonstrations of their campuses.
Taking all of this to account, we as a union will stand with students to defend your student experience and provide you with the right support and information through this campaign.
We will ensure there is clear communication of the timeline regarding the business cases so you can be in the loop of what is going on and will have the documents available for you to read.
You deserve to have your voices heard so we are offering to provide advice to students who would like to independently organise anything on their campuses, whether that is a forum, an open letter or demonstration, taking into account that we will need to review your plans – this is so we can do what we can to provide the right information, advice and make sure these events go on as safely and as peaceful as possible. Once we’ve been able to talk about your plans with you and consider any needs or risks, the sabbatical officers can help you promote your event, offer help with printing, and take part.
We are determined to defend your student experience and represent your voice. We have created a page on our website which we will be updating to make sure you are up to date with information. You can also sign up so you can receive updates about the campaign as well as submit your feedback.
These documents contain the ‘business cases’ for each department of UCA that is affected by the budget cuts. Each case has been compiled by senior members of that department. The business cases detail how the departments will reduce staff and other costs, in order to meet targets they have been set by the Leadership team. They are currently drafts, subject to feedback from staff and students, and will be finalised on 29 May. You can submit feedback on the form above which will be collated by UCASU staff and submitted to UCA’s Leadership team.
This letter was sent by Alan Cooke Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Corporate Resources) in response to a letter from UCASU’s Presidents outlining the Union’s key concerns about the budget cuts.
Thank you for your letter dated 16 April 2019 and advising of the concerns raised by the Students’ Union and students in connection with the recently issued University Business Case. I welcomed the opportunity of meeting with Riley, Andy and Sophie yesterday to run through the context and background of the Business Case and the presentation provided to staff last week.
The University notes the concerns raised in connection with the staff-student ratio and quality of course delivery, along with the areas you mention around pastoral care and support, and these will be addressed in the business cases due to be issued to all staff on May 3.
I undertook to make available a copy of the Business Cases to the SU once they have been issued to staff. These will contain the full details of the Business Cases which will be received by staff in the relevant School or Department. A summary of the Business Cases will be posted on the Staff Portal and can be circulated to students.
As mentioned to colleagues in the meeting, the University has already agreed that the timescale for consultation on the Business Cases will be extended until 22 May, to take account of the Easter break, and at present the final Business Case will be implemented from the 3 June.
I handed to colleagues at the meeting a draft list of questions and answers that we have prepared arising from issues already raised, and i am willing to add to the list any further questions that arise from yourselves or students. To help co-ordinate these questions i asked that this was carried out through the SU so that you can capture concerns and issues raised by students. I also offered to post the answers through the SU portal if that was helpful.
We welcome the opportunity to continue constructive dialogue with the SU during the process so that we can minimise the impact of the Business Cases on both staff and students through what will be challenging times for both the HE sector and the University.
In the meantime, if there is any further information you would like at this time, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Professor Alan Cooke
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Corporate Resources)
This letter was sent by our Presidents (Marta Szurmiej, Riley Clowes and Simone Ziel) to the Leadership Team
“Dear Leadership Team,
We refer to your business case and supplementary materials circulated to staff and students detailing measures to achieve c£5m savings in the 2019/20 academic year.
The Union’s concern is of a reduction to the quality of teaching, through reduced access to staff time, facilities, or other components associated with learning and course delivery.
The business case states despite making the required savings, that the staff-student ratio will not be affected, and that the quality of course delivery will be at least maintained. Also specified is the target to increase recruitment over the coming years. We seek information as to how these three ambitions will be achieved, as the quality of course delivery and staff-student ratio is of utmost importance to students.
We also seek assurances that the provision of pastoral care and learning support will not be reduced. Students currently receiving support with learning or emotional needs should continue to access these services at a quality and frequency not lower than is currently provided.
Finally, we ask that the consultation period be extended by four weeks to provide information and assurances to students, and to seek their input into the future configuration of learning at UCA.
Marta Szurmiej – President
Riley Clowes – Vice-President Kent
Simone Ziel – Vice-President Surrey”