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University firmly dismisses job cut claims

The University of St Andrews has moved to firmly dismiss claims by trade unions that hundreds of jobs are under threat at the Fife institution.

Responding to a newspaper report and claims by trades unions that current reviews in its Residential and Business Services and IT units had placed “hundreds” of jobs at risk, St Andrews Vice-Principal Stephen Magee said the claims were “unequivocally false.”

“There is no question of this University making hundreds of people redundant. Despite these hugely difficult economic times – our Government funding alone was cut by 10.7% this year – this claim is simply not true. It will not happen. It is not planned and it is not possible.

“One of the qualities that has defined St Andrews in recent years is our determination to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible, and despite the enormous financial pressures in the public sector, it is vitally important to stress that we remain committed to that ideal.

“Unlike other areas of the higher education sector, St Andrews is not implementing large scale cuts. We are trying to save and protect jobs wherever possible, and that may mean a small number of posts become redundant and some staff are asked to change the way they work.

“We have asked the unions to join with us in doing everything possible to alleviate unnecessary anxieties and had hoped that they would respond positively to this invitation.

“It is deeply disappointing and very concerning to see this type of scaremongering. It can only add to the anxieties of our staff at an enormously difficult time for everyone in the public sector.”

The University is currently undertaking reviews and restructuring in its Residential and Business Services and IT Services/Business Improvements Units.

The single aim in both reviews is to respond positively to sustained requests from students and staff for improvements in Catering and IT services, not to cut jobs.

The case for change is clear. Student surveys have continually expressed a need for improvements in catering, in menus and in variety. In IT, staff and students want and rightly expect systems and support which reflect St Andrews’ status as a world-class university. The University has a duty to ensure best value and efficiency for its use of public money.

In the course of conducting any review, when there is any risk of redundancy to any member of staff, the University is legally compelled to inform all staff that their posts may be at risk of redundancy.

“We do not want for a moment to diminish the very real apprehension and upset that is felt by any member of staff when they are informed that their job may be at risk of redundancy,” added Mr Magee.

“We wish there was another, less prescriptive way to approach this, but like every employer we are bound by the need to observe strict legal process. It is very regrettable that the process negotiated between university leadership and trades unions compels us to send letters to a large number of people when in fact only a very small number may be at risk of redundancy. This is undoubtedly a cause of unnecessary anxiety, as are misleading public claims about our reviews.”

From the outset of the reviews, the University has made it clear that a small number of staff will find that their posts are to become redundant as new ways of working and new services are introduced.

These people may leave the University’s employment or may move to new posts. The reviews will be complete later this summer and regular meetings are being held with affected staff to update them.

ENDS


Issued by the Press Office

Contact Niall Scott, contact 01334 462244, email ns30@st-andrews.ac.uk

Ref: Jobs response 220611

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