Funding cuts to force job losses at Bristol and Manchester Met

A total of 377 jobs could be cut at the University of Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan University after they became the latest institutions to address the "severe pressures" forecast on government funding.

The announcements came in a week of cutbacks and unrest across the sector. The University of Birmingham is considering closing its sociology department; Bath Spa University is set to close its international activities department; and staff and students at University of the Arts London have been protesting against job and course reductions.

Bristol said it must cut 250 jobs, about 5 per cent of its total posts, by 2011-12 and find annual savings of £15 million.

Eric Thomas, Bristol's vice-chancellor, wrote to staff telling them that management is "keen to make the reductions through voluntary means and improvements to organisational structures and ways of working".

Professor Thomas cites the higher than expected national pay award in 2008 and the cost of a voluntary severance scheme as factors, along with "uncertain financial conditions from 2010-11 onwards, with government funding ... coming under severe pressure".

Manchester Met, which employs about 4,200 people, is to reduce staffing across a number of support areas "by potentially 1 posts".

The university said it was doing everything it could to avoid compulsory redundancies, but warned of the need "to protect the university from cuts in public expenditure".

At Birmingham, a report to the governing council recommends the sociology department's closure. The report, by Edward Peck, head of Birmingham's College of Social Sciences, says that "poor relations" between some academics are hindering the department's work.

A decision on whether to close the department will be made by the end of the year.

At University of the Arts London, staff and students protested against the loss of 16 courses and 37 staff at the London College of Communication site.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com.

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