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De Montfort University staff cuts will ‘damage reputation’

De Montfort University (DMU) has been told that it will do “immense damage” to its reputation if it goes ahead with proposed job cuts.

The Leicester-based university has said that its finances have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living, and that it may have to cut 58 jobs to save money.

However, one academic said that the cuts would “severely diminish the student experience”.

A professor, who asked to remain anonymous and whose job is one of those at risk, said: “Management are telling us we cost too much but, just a couple of years ago, they promoted us to senior positions – where is the logic there?

“I am doing what I have been promoted to do. My contribution to the university in terms of research and in terms of the profile – none of this matters. I cost too much now.”

“A city that had two universities is going to be left with one-and-a-half because DMU won’t be a proper university anymore.”

–DMU anonymous academic

Another academic, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said: “They are doing immense reputational damage to the institution by getting rid of their most successful academics. I think it will severely diminish the student experience. That will ultimately prove counterproductive in financial terms.

“All they’re really doing is winding the institution down and turning it into a vocational skills centre. A city that had two universities is going to be left with one-and-a-half because DMU won’t be a proper university anymore.”

At the time of writing, more than 2,800 people have signed an online petition to protect the jobs.

The DMU branch of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) said: “We don’t see that ‘high-quality teaching’ can be delivered when outstanding teachers, researchers, and professional services staff are being thrown on the scrapheap.

“At a time when our staff-student ratio is one of the worst in the sector, management’s response is to compound the problem by losing what might amount to 58 essential roles.”

The university had introduced a programme of cost-saving measures in an effort to address an overall budget deficit, which included voluntary redundancies, freezing senior staff bonuses, reducing overtime pay and spending on casual and consultancy staff.

Any further cuts will come into effect in October.

A spokesperson for DMU said: “We are immensely proud of how quickly our staff and students responded to the pandemic. Despite this, the unavoidable financial impact of the pandemic has been substantial in higher education institutions and DMU is no exception.

“We need to consult on possible redundancies where we have lower student numbers and high numbers of staff. While these measures are the very last we wanted to take, they are being taken to ensure the university remains financially strong into the future, which in turn enables us to keep providing high-quality teaching, learning and research.

“We are committed to delivering all of these to the highest standard possible.”

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