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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

Campus Closures as Staff Depart Due to Voluntary Severance

International Centre and IMS Café close due to staff shortages

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

A number of units across the University are slated for closure, as the institution looks to make savings after a downturn in international student applications sparked a financial crisis last autumn.

The closures come as the University is dealing with the fallout of a major voluntary severance scheme, which saw more than 150 members of staff leave Aberdeen this spring.

The café at the Institute of Medical Sciences at Foresterhill was the first to close, after “recent staff departures” led to the site being shut on 17 May. Remaining cafe staff were transferred to the nearby Suttie Centre, a move which sparked anger amongst IMS academics, many of whom monitor time sensitive experiments and are unable to leave the building to get coffee or lunch. 

The Gaudie also understand that conversations about the potential closure of the MacRobert café are underway.

“We don't know what's happening now. We have no idea what will happen after graduation,” one source told us.

Another source said: “The cafe serves all of us in the building - staff, students, visitors. As usual there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what is happening.”

The University’s International Centre has also closed. Located on the High Street, the centre 

hosted a wide range of language classes and social events for international students. 

A University spokesperson told The Gaudie: “As with many parts of our physical estate, the function of 110 High Street is being reviewed to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency. 

“However, the intention remains to continue delivering as many of the multicultural activities and experiences provided by our International Centre as possible on an ongoing basis, regardless of location.”

Just down the street from the International Centre, across St Machar Drive, the University’s print shop has also been threatened with closure. 

In late May, a University spokesperson told us a 45 day consultation was being carried out “over a proposal to close the University’s printing and binding service UniPrint.”

The Gaudie understands that printing demand has decreased by 75% over the last five years. Under the terms of the proposal, printing services would be outsourced and housed elsewhere on campus.

The print shop currently serves a number of functions; including the printing of business cards, flyers, and booklets, the soft and hard binding of dissertations and theses, and the production of large scale posters.

While the University ruled out the possibility of compulsory redundancies last month, senior management face a continued battle to regain the trust of their employees, as departures have led to increased workloads among remaining staff.

One professional services staff member said: “We are severely depleted in numbers but are expected to do almost twice as much work to cover the gaps.” 

Another staff member noted: “No action has been demonstrated in regards to the restructuring, just fleeting words that change is coming, when it's clear excessive workload levels due to the VS/ER, will not change.”

For their part, University management have asked staff to provide their thoughts on potential changes. 

In a message to professional services staff, University Secretary Tracey Slaven said: “I’m looking for your help in working through how our Professional Services will operate in the future. 

"We need to adapt and evolve to deliver effectively."


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