Cookie policy: This site uses cookies to simplify and improve your usage and experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information on how we use and manage cookies please take a look at our privacy and cookie policies. Your privacy is important to us and our policy is to neither share nor sell your personal information to any external organisation or party; nor to use behavioural analysis for advertising to you.

Cuts threaten access reputation, Ulster staff claim

Academics fear that 'provision of teaching will be seriously diminished'. Matthew Reisz writes


University of Ulster
Credit: Alamy


Proposed jobs cuts at the University of Ulster amount to the institution "abdicating its responsibilities to the wider community that funds it" and may "leave a massive hole in the educational provision for the children of Northern Ireland".

Those are among the claims made in an open letter to Ulster's vice-chancellor, Richard Barnett, that has been signed by 50 members of staff, 130 current and former students, as well as "concerned individuals" from across the world.

The letter was sent out on 13 March by Neal Garnham, senior lecturer in history at Ulster, with the worldwide group headed by the renowned literary theorist Terry Eagleton, now distinguished visitor in the department of English at the University of Notre Dame in the US.

Acknowledging that reduced funding from the Northern Ireland government necessitated spending cuts, the letter argues that "we must all take our fair share of the burden". Yet large-scale redundancies, including claims that a quarter of those teaching history, English and modern languages will lose their posts, mean that "provision of teaching and student care in some areas will become seriously diminished, if not inadequate".

All this was particularly serious, the letter goes on, in an institution that "prides itself on its ability to widen access to higher education for groups who have traditionally been excluded". It says that 1,500 Ulster students have some form of disability or suffer from long-term ill health, while almost 40 per cent hail from lower-income homes.

"Many more than the national average have caring responsibilities, looking after children, parents or other family members. We help these people...to achieve better things for themselves and their families in later life," the letter says.

"The university is trying to push through piecemeal changes fairly rapidly so that particular areas get eroded without anyone noticing," Dr Garnham said.

A spokesman for Ulster said that its decisions had taken account of "existing workloads across the disciplines". Although eight posts would be lost in English and history, "in the Ulster Business School, an additional 10 posts are being filled. The overall aim is to bring performance across the disciplines more into line," the spokesman added.

He said the institution was "confident these changes will not impact at all on our excellent record...for widening access ".

Asked for an alternative to the cuts, Dr Garnham said: "If the vice-chancellor gave me three weeks and a look at the books, I could save him £1 million - there's a lot of fat to be trimmed."

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

Readers' comments (3)

  • The Irish Times reports: "It is envisaged the main mall at Jordanstown, 12 miles outside Belfast, will be demolished. Some 13,000 students will then be relocated to the city centre by 2018 to join the 2,000 art and architecture students already studying at York Street. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0314/1224313272045.html But it does not mention that the Jordanstown building is only 25 years old!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The Belfast Telegraph reports about the University of Ulster: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/more-to-university-than-250mworth-of-bricks-16127569.html "... You judge a university on the basis of how it fares in the area of what universities are set up to do. Central in this respect is the quality of the teaching. “So how does the university stack up? Unfortunately,not so well. “Guardian/Observer 2012 rankings of the teaching in Britain's 119 degree-awarding institutions ranks the university in 88th place, having slipped even further in the last year from an already poor 80th place. ... ... “It is time the great and the good got real. If we see having highly educated young people as critical to our economic prospects and to attracting inward investment, then we need to focus on how our universities go about teaching, rather than gasp in awe at their building plans."

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The news says: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/miliband-calls-social-mobility-040650118.html "Ed Miliband has attacked the "snobbery" which views university education as the only route to social mobility. "The Labour leader said it was important to "celebrate" vocational qualifications such as apprenticeships and other training opportunities for young people who do not go to university...." So, instead of being a 'fourth rate' university (88 out of 118), and adding to another £250M in the process, the University of Ulster should indeed try to develop itself as a vocational school for example, taxi driving, plumbing and other similar training.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Print
  • Share
  • Save
  • Print
  • Share
  • Save
Jobs