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There seems little doubt that, thanks to the incompetent bankers, savings will have to be made in every university, including UCL.  The best that can be done may be to try to ensure that the savings are made fairly, with minimum damage to UCL.  How the savings are distributed within UCL is an internal matter,  It is not dictated by government.

The aim of this post is to discover how savings targets were calculated for each part of UCL and the extent to which the targets are fair and sensible. 

We concentrate particularly on figures for the Faculty of Life Sciences (FLS) because that faculty has been told to make greater savings than others, and because it is the only faculty to be threatened with academic redundancies.

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Savings will have to be made, regardless of how they are distributed within each university. It is impossible to calculate the actual amounts that could be saved from each sort of central service, because no attempt seems to have been made to check whether they are spending wisely, and no attempt has been made to discover the amount that they actually need. Anything that the productive departments make is simply swept up by central services. This post is to point out some things that the College would benefit from losing.

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This strangely moving essay was submitted by a member of academic staff in the Faculty of Life Sciences. The fact that they wish to remain anonymous should, itself, convey a message about the extent to which staff feel intimidated, even bullied. It shows too, the harm that can be done to an institution by bad management. The best teachers and researchers will leave. In that sense, bad managers can’t win but they can destroy a place in the attempt.


I still remember my pride . . .

A deep silence seems to have fallen on the plans for Life Science Faculty redundancies. I entirely understand the despondency, as I myself feel in turn demoralized, disaffected and somewhat cynical.
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On 10 March 2010, a letter was sent to Malcolm Grant, provost of UCL, by the heads of the four research departments in the Biosciences division in the Faculty of Life Sciences.

The remarkable thing about this letter was the unanimity of the support for it, It was signed by 142 academics in these departments, with only six abstentions.

The full text of the letter is reproduced below. It is followed by the brief response from the provost, received on 16 March.

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Make your views count.
Complete the ‘alternative survey‘ (very quick; five questions, two minutes, and totally anonymous).


How would you rate the change in morale of staff in FLS over the last three years? The replies vary from ‘disastrous’ to ‘bad’.



Click to enlarge

It is a little over a week since the short survey was posted.  So far there have been 144 responses of which 73 are from the Faculty of Life Sciences, 29 from the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences (i.e. medicine) and 20 from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities…Responses are still coming in, but the trend is already very clear, so it seems worth posting the interim results. The responses have come from both academics and support staff.  The graphs shown here are for replies from FLS only (click on graph to enlarge)

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Understanding UCL finances is a challenge even when one has what appears to be reliable information. My perspective is that of an academic in a Science Department at UCL, who recently participated in a time-consuming and detailed analysis of income and expenditure, to find out why our Department runs at a deficit. By way of a disclaimer I should point out that whilst I can vouch for the accuracy of my own experience, it may be that budgets and accounts are managed differently elsewhere in UCL. Most Departments (perhaps all) in the FLS and FBS run at a loss, and all have been asked to hit certain savings targets. Our analysis provided I & E information for individual academic staff (PIs) and what emerged, unsurprisingly, was that PIs contribute to the deficit to varying degrees. Thus, a PI with no grants who does no teaching, would be relatively expensive as there would be no recovery of any percentage of their salary through overheads or QR.

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The academic view

Make your views count.
Complete the ‘alternative survey‘ (very quick; five questions, two minutes, and totally anonymous).


 

Last week, academic staff in UCL’s Faculty of Life Sciences were astonished to get a letter from the Dean, Mary Collins, stating that “it seems likely that the only way we can achieve a balanced budget now and in the future is to reduce staff costs, including academic posts. This has been reported to the UCL Council and it has been agreed to establish a Redundancy Committee under Statute 18 in case academic redundancies do prove to be necessary”.

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