Leaked memo reveals major cuts at the University of Salford


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The Independent Online

Potential course closures at the University of Salford could affect more than 1,000 students and 75 members of staff, according to a leaked memo.

Strike action has been threatened, and the University and College Union (UCU) will be holding an emergency meeting this Wednesday for all members of staff that are 'affected by the current situation'.

The departments affected by these cuts were said to include the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, Salford Law School, the School of the Built Environment, and the School of Arts and Media.

Tensions are running high amongst members of staff as there is speculation that the university has launched an internal investigation to find the person who leaked the memo to the press.

The UCU believes that financial difficulties at the university have been created because of investment in a new campus space based at Media City – the total yearly costs of which reach £4.5m.

This comes to light after it was revealed in October that the University had suffered a loss of £4m-worth of revenue.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “The University of Salford already has the unenviable tag as Britain’s most prolific university for axing staff. This damaging memo paints the university in a callous and uncaring light.

“It appears to have no regard for either its hardworking staff or students making potentially the biggest decisions of their lives. We are really disappointed the university has ignored the unions and pursued such a damaging approach.”

The document has surfaced a matter of days after the deadline for prospective students to pick their preferred university places. They will have had no warning that their course choices may be scrapped.

A Salford University spokesperson has since stressed that any course closures will only come into effect after enrolled students have completed their degrees:

“All students who have applied, been accepted or enrolled to study at Salford for the 2013-14 academic year will have their chosen courses taught through to graduation.”

Following initial reports in the press, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Huw Morris of the university claimed in an email sent out to all current students:

“Changing patterns in student demand have meant that we must constantly review our portfolio of courses. Here in Salford, as in other universities, we are experiencing strong demand in many areas and predictably less demand in others.”

There is unrest amongst many students however who believe that the students and staff are not being adequately considered.

Johnny Blackburn, an undergraduate at the university, said: “I think it's terrible and the university has its heart in the right place, but it’s being a little bit stupid. Sure they want to make big, bold dramatic changes to courses, with new buildings and more things. But at the end of the day teachers are the lifeblood of education.

“They are the be all and end all of it and what the university needs to focus on; making sure they come first.”

The SU has launched its own investigation into the accuracy of the reports and has promised to fight the corner for any students affected by the proposals.

a spokesperson said: “Please be assured that as a Union we will be strenuously lobbying for clear communication about any programme changes. We will oppose any moves to reduce or dilute the teaching of current students registered on affected programmes.”