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Oxford Brookes to cut staff as music and maths courses close

The Business Magazine article image for: Oxford Brookes to cut staff as music and maths courses close
31 January 2024

The vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University has shared the verdict from a series of cost saving proposals in response to rising financial pressures across the academic sector.

Though the university offered a voluntary severance scheme before the festive break, it hasn’t been enough to achieve its required annual cost savings of £2 million, and a staff consultation period earlier this month ended with no satisfactory outcome.

“A small number of staff will now progress into a compulsory redundancy process”, said Professor Alistair Fitt, vice-chancellor at Oxford Brookes.

“While I deeply regret the need to make any reductions in staff numbers, and that compulsory redundancies cannot be avoided for all affected staff, I hope that this decision demonstrates our willingness to listen to feedback and to make adaptations to our approach which reduce the impact on staff wherever possible.”

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Professor Fitt cited a range of external factors contributing to the position in which many universities like Oxford Brookes find themselves today – including inflation, flat student fees for UK undergraduates for more than a decade, and increases in staff pay and employer pension contributions.

These factors have also played into the university’s decision to close its music and mathematics programmes, which did ‘not attract sufficient numbers of students’ to be financially viable.

With the closure process now underway, both courses will operate with a reduced number of associate lecturers.

Salaried mathematics staff will move to teach the subject in other departments, while at-risk staff on the music programme who didn’t put themselves forward for voluntary severance now face compulsory redundancy.

“The last thing that any vice-chancellor or leadership team within a university wants to do is to stop teaching a valued subject”, added Professor Fitt.

“I would like to emphasise that we remain committed to all of our current students, and will ensure that changes to staffing do not preclude our students from continuing and completing successfully on their programme of study.

“I recognise that this will continue to be a very challenging time for colleagues, particularly for those on the affected programmes. However difficult, these decisions have been taken in the best interests of the university going forward.

“We will continue to seek ways to mitigate the impact of this decision on staff, and to offer support to all those directly impacted.”

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Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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