KING’S’ proposal to cut up to 120 jobs is not part of a “grand master plan”, College principal Rick Trainor told members of the university’s Academic Board last week.
The principal rejected accusations that the redundancies were planned as part of last year’s controversial merger of Biomed and Medicine into the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine.
During the three-hour meeting students and staff expressed concerns over the plan, with one academic saying it would “traumatise” the institution and may lead to the best staff leaving.
King’s said that changes to the way Higher Education is funded means they now have to bankroll their own capital projects and that up to 15% of the Health Schools academics may be cut to help pay for a Â£400m building investment.
The meeting comes during the College’s 45-day consultation period on the redundancies, ending July 7, which is legally required when such a high number of jobs are at risk.
One of the College’s vice principals reiterated that the restructure wouldn’t significantly impact students, and that they are currently carrying out a risk assessment.
However, a Head of Department pointed out that although it was being called a ‘consultation’, it was happening while the plan was being executed and that, in their discipline, risk assessments would also be carried out before an experiment, not during.
The University and College Union (UCU) are currently balloting their members to decide whether to take industrial action. The ballot closes on June 25.
UCU Regional Official, Barry Jones, commented last week: “Investment in staff should be a priority and a recent survey of studentsÂ showed us this is a greater priority for them than investment inÂ infrastructure. King’s, however, has chosen to prioritise buildings over staff.”
Sebastiaan Debrouwere, King’s students’ union (KCLSU) president, said during the meeting: “With the pace and impact of these cuts I can’t help but to feel alienated.”
Another academic from a non-health department said it “destroys confidence” in the College.
A petition calling on King’s to explore alternative options and an extended consultation period, set up by students has received over 3,000 signatures.
KCLSU declined to comment on the meeting.
King’s were contacted for comment but did not respond.