King’s updates at-risk staff via external forum

Use of comments section of THE’s website to apprise staff of revised redundancy plans defended

King’s College London has defended its decision to update staff on its restructuring plans via Times Higher Education’s comments board.

In response to a series of critical posts over its original plans to cut up to 120 jobs from three health schools, King’s announced on 3 July that the number of at-risk positions had been halved to just 60.

In a comment posted under an opinion article on the King’s plans, a university spokesman explained that 60 roles represent “less than 3.2 per cent of our academic workforce” and that King’s would have “25 per cent spare capacity in our teaching capability across the three schools” once the restructuring was complete.

He also admonished the university’s critics, saying that it was “a matter of regret that some of our own community have chosen to be publicly critical of the current restructuring process before engaging directly with senior management”.

But several academics affected by the redundancy consultation hit out at the manner of the announcement.

Mitul Mehta, a senior lecturer based at the Institute of Psychiatry, said that it was “remarkable that the changes in the numbers under threat of redundancy are announced…in the comments section of an opinion article”.

“Going external with crucial information without first informing staff is behaviour that staff and students are themselves being accused of,” Dr Mehta said.

However, King’s argued that it considered it crucial to respond to staff concerns quickly after concluding a review of its plans.

“We felt that it was important to update readers of the THE opinion piece with the current situation as soon as possible,” a spokeswoman said.

“We are offering individuals still provisionally at risk support and guidance on next steps, and will be providing staff in the three health schools with more information at the forthcoming staff briefing sessions,” she added.

She went on to say that King’s had “started the process of updating unions, staff and the students’ union on Thursday last week [3 July] on the outcome of the final panel considerations”, which had led to the halving of the number of at-risk positions.

The THE post came the same day the University and College Union branch at King’s announced that it would hold a one-day strike on 10 July as Princess Anne visited the institution to open a new neuroscience building.

UCU regional official Barry Jones seemed unaware that the number of posts at risk had been altered at the time of that announcement, saying: “Sacking 120 staff will do absolutely nothing positive for King’s College’s academic reputation.”

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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