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Monday, June 17, 2024

Northumbria Uni warns of job losses

Northumbria University job losses looming as staff warned of £12.5 million budget cuts

A North East university has warned of looming job losses as it tries to slash costs.

Staff at Northumbria University were told on Monday afternoon that the Newcastle institution’s staffing budget faces being cut by £12.5 million.

University vice-chancellor and chief executive Prof Andy Long wrote that savings are needed “in order to ensure we are able to cover our costs”, but pledged to do “all that we can” to avoid compulsory redundancies.

He blamed a “volatile” market for recruiting students from overseas and the Government making it “more difficult” to do so, saying the university’s income was projected to be £10 million lower in the next academic year as a result, as well as pressures caused by inflation.

However, in an email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Prof Long insisted that the university is in a “very strong” financial position.

A university spokesperson confirmed: “While Northumbria University’s underlying financial position remains very strong, along with most higher education institutions the current financial outlook is weaker than anticipated. This is a consequence of a combination of fixed home undergraduate fees, difficulties around recruitment of international students, and the ongoing impact of inflation.

“To remain competitive and to create room for investment in our future strategic plans, the university must address its cost base through changes to staff and non-staff budgets. In doing so we will ensure we protect the student experience while supporting our staff through this challenging period. We will do all that we can to avoid compulsory redundancies while we go through this process.”

The university is one of the city’s major employers, with around 3,000 staff.

In his email, Prof Long said that £16 million worth of savings had already been made this year and a further £4 million of spending reductions already identified in non-staffing areas.

However, he added that the “working assumption is that we now need to reduce our current staff costs by a further £12.5 million from an overall budget of £225 million”.

The vice chancellor said that Northumbria would seek to increase its recruitment of home students to around 6,000 per year, from a current 5,400, because of concerns about the international student market.

He told staff that the university will have approximately 700 fewer students on its Newcastle campus in 2024/25 than it had five years earlier, while during which time its workforce had grown by 500.

Prof Long also highlighted higher energy prices and a “further £4 million strain on our budgets” from the Teachers Pension Scheme as factors behind the savings plan.

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