We’re asking all supporters to email management to convey their alarm at the proposals to restructure the School of Chemical and Biological Sciences (SBCS).
Please email the Head of School, Matthew Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org), copying in the Principal (email@example.com) and the UCU branch (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you prefer to remain anonymous, email the UCU branch and we will forward your email after anonymising it.
You can create an email by patching together the key points below, but it will be more powerful if you write in your own words, particularly if you are a student or an academic in these disciplines, since your insights will count heavily.
- The restructuring imposes completely unfair, retrospective targets on staff. They were instructed to carry a heavy teaching load, in an institution with a very high staff-student ratio (1:23), few resources, weak infrastructure and little time or support to conduct research. Now they are being evaluated on research targets drawn from the top 20% of researchers nationwide, from non-comparable institutions. SBCS’s talented and dedicated staff need time away from teaching and the right support to flourish as researchers, not dismissal after years of loyal service. There should be no compulsory redundancies.
- The restructuring is also unlikely to actually achieve its goal of improving research output since management proposals outline no plans to enhance infrastructure, resources or support for staff. Instead, survivors face an aggressive, narrow-minded form of performance management that will be counterproductive. Buying in research ‘stars’ is a short-term strategy that will further undermine collegiality. The proposal to force staff into four research clusters, with a view to enforced collaboration, is deeply misguided and will undermine both academic freedom and the practice of good science.
- The proposals’ neglect of teaching and of the School’s students is outrageous. Replacing 20+ sacked staff with 14 researchers in Bioinformatics and 8 teaching-only posts will destroy the broad expertise needed to teach undergraduates and cause the School’s teaching programmes to collapse. Undergraduates should not be taught by non-research-active staff at leading universities – they have a right to expect better. PhD students need security and support, not their studies being plunged into uncertainty. The staff-student ratio needs to be radically improved, not worsened as the proposals intend to do, both to increase research time and enhance teaching quality.
- – Management should withdraw their proposals and the alternative proposals being drawn up by SBCS staff and UCU representatives – which will enhance research output, safeguard teaching quality and preserve jobs – should be adopted instead.