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The rush to sack Health Schools staff isn’t ‘creating certainty’, it’s seeding doubt among staff and students

Campaigners at the KCLSU Health SoS protest on Monday

MOST people involved in the KCL Health Schools redundancies were made aware of last month’s bombshell announcement through emails and water cooler conversations.

Even more remained unaware until King’s students’ union KCLSU submitted a petition against the 120 job losses.

The primary justification for these redundancies is to generate a financial surplus of 6% in the College accounts, allowing King’s to continue with its planned capital projects, including building and IT investments.

Last Thursday, students reps and KCLSU officers met with the Vice President for Health at King’s College London, Sir Robert Lechler, and discussed one of the major points of contention in the process: the lack of transparency.

Lechler continues to say that the speed of this process is to “create certainty” and to be “finished [with the redundancy process] before the start of new term in September”.

But this race to certainty seems more like running with scissors; it leaves little time to publish impact reports or effectively consult with department heads before the final decisions are made.

College management is calling any time spent justifying the cuts “consultation” and imagine the process is easing uncertainty. However, due to the number of unanswered questions and lack tangible evidence for alternatives considered, these question and answer sessions do little more than to seed further doubt among staff, students, and the global research community.

King’s College and its Health Schools are made great not only by its buildings and equipment, but the world-class staff, researchers, and professors. These are the ones who foster the great educational experience as well as the university’s reputation for being a global leader in scientific research, innovation and education.

Each and every one of the men and women who will be made redundant at the end of this process were considered to be brilliant and competitive, and actively contributed to the success and reputation of this university. But given the rush to cut these staff from the payroll there are no solid contingency plans for the effects on courses, pastoral care, or PhD funding and projects.

The Vice Deans of the Health Schools are now actively working to forge plans with staff and students to lessen the brunt of these cuts on their respective schools and departments.

At the meeting Sir Lechler and other College management the emphatically state that there was no dubious intention with the timing of these cuts being during revision time for most of students, but the student campaign questions whether the redundancies themselves are the best option.

These managers made a decision that the only way for the Health Schools to make up the projected deficit was to fire the same people who made the Health Schools great, and then calling the discussions of these cuts a “consultation”.

At the end of these cuts, Health staff won’t have only lost great people, they will have lost trust in King’s as an institution.

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