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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Cuts Chaos Rocks University Community

DHPA and LLMVC could merge as Schools told to clear millions in staffing costs

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Photo: Archive

Amidst growing concern over a £15 million financial shortfall, University management have taken drastic steps to balance the books.

Senior managers have proposed a multi-year financial recovery plan they claim will nurse the University back to health.

As part of the plan, staff in LLMVC have been told they must clear £1.25 million in staffing costs over the next financial year, resulting in the removal of fifteen FTE (full time equivalent) staff.

Meanwhile, lecturers in the School of Social Sciences have been instructed to cut £510,000 from their staff budget.

A department source said that costs were expected to be reduced by way of a hiring freeze and increased intake of voluntary severance/early retirement.

And last Monday, Geosciences staff were informed that 30% of their budget had to be slashed by 2025.

Lecturers in the school fear that the announcement could result in around twenty people being made redundant. 

One worried lecturer, who labelled the news “pretty scary”, told The Gaudie: “We were told that the School needed to save 1.7 million by July 2025. That represents around 30% of the staffing budget or (very roughly) around 20 positions. The hope is that this will be solved by voluntary severance and retirement.”

Most shocking of all is the news that the Schools of DHPA and LLMVC could be 

merged under restructuring plans proposed by University management.

According to a well-placed source, members of the DHPA executive were told last Wednesday that a merger with the School of LLMVC was likely to take place.

A new arts and humanities 'super-school' is expected to be formed in their place.

In a letter to staff, Heads of School Chris Collins and Beth Lord said:

"We have begun to consider the option of bringing the two Schools together in a unified School.

Thinking is currently at an early stage and we have begun to discuss it in our two School Executives (DHPA yesterday and LLMVC at its scheduled Exec meeting next week).

"Any formal plan for the Schools to merge would need to progress through the formal governance process, which involves Court, General Council Business Committee and Senate."

Asked for comment, a University spokesperson confirmed that meetings had taken place across campus, commenting the proceedings were intended to “to discuss savings and ways to generate extra income.”

While the number of staff cuts have not yet been announced, clues point to a large overall number.

An internal management report from October leaked to The Gaudie forecasts £2 million in “voluntary severance” savings in 2023/24, coupled with a spend of £10 million on severance payouts.

The report states: “A voluntary severance (VS) saving of £2m will be achieved during 2023/24, this will be subject to Court approval.

“A VS cost of £10m has been included within the forecast.”

Speaking to The Gaudie, members of academic union UCU warned that more than 100 jobs could be at stake. 

One source noted: "Whilst it is relieving that scholars are being given the option of choosing to leave, the numbers don't add up. A £2m annual 'saving' implies that the University expects around 25 lecturers to walk away.”

“However the £10m set aside for payouts suggests that management is expecting to settle with as many as 150 members of staff…”

“Management [must] invest this huge pot of cash in larger payouts to those who are losing their livelihood."

Another source noted that cash set aside for severance could be easily set aside to fund compulsory redundancies in coming months.

A University of Aberdeen spokesperson confirmed that a range of enhanced retirement and voluntary severance options had been offered to staff.

They told The Gaudie

“The scheme is open for Expressions of Interest until 16 February 2024 and operates on the basis of staff leaving the University by the latest date of 31 July 2024 and so potential cost savings are expected to span multiple financial years. 

“The portion of savings anticipated in 2023/24 are £2m but the scheme is anticipated to recover more significant savings in the period beyond the current Financial Plan.”


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