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"Above Target" Voluntary Severance Could Result in Language Lecturers Avoiding Redundancy

Ahead of a vital Court meeting next week, languages staff remain unconvinced

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Modern Languages staff could avoid compulsory redundancies if enough people take voluntary severance, Senior VP Karl Leydecker has suggested.

In a message to the department, sent late last week, Professor Leydecker noted that interest in leaving the University was higher than expected.

He wrote: “The levels of expressions of interest are now above the total required staff savings target in the School [of LLMVC].

“Early clarification of which expressions of interest will lead to formal application will be helpful in determining whether the staff savings target for the School can be achieved voluntarily or not...

... but the level of expression of interest suggests that a very considerable proportion and potentially all of the savings required may be able to be realised through voluntary means.”

In the email, Professor Leydecker also praised a number of “comprehensive and detailed” recommendations made by a group of staff and students.

He said: “I would like to convey my thanks to ...[eveyone] across the School who contributed to the development of such a comprehensive Consultation Response. We recognise the amount of excellent work that went into its production at pace and in very difficult circumstances.”

Professor Leydecker added that senior management would make a number of recommendations to Court, the University’s governing body, at its next meeting on the 28th of February.

He said: “The Steering Group will be recommending to Court that, in line with the discussion at the December Court, provision of Modern Languages should continue at the University, with a full range of undergraduate joint honours degree programmes in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting, and Gaelic continuing to be offered, alongside Sustained Studies courses and taught postgraduate and PhD programmes.

“The Court paper also indicates support for the continuation of research in Modern Languages, through the ongoing employment of some staff on Teaching & Research contracts, ensuring that the curriculum is research led and underpinning planned growth in PGR student recruitment.”

In response, modern language lecturers told The Gaudie that the threat of compulsory redundancy must be removed.

They said:

“We welcome the recognition of the high quality of our proposals, which came together through outstanding teamwork in Modern Languages Translation and Interpreting despite extremely challenging working conditions due to our being under threat of compulsory redundancy and having only a matter of weeks in which to publish proposals ahead of the Consultation end date of mid-February.

“We hope that Court will recognise the excellent potential of the Standing Group's proposals and that they will call on Senior Management to remove the threat of compulsory redundancies against colleagues in Modern Languages Translation and Interpreting.

Lecturers have raised questions about the abbreviated timeline of the consultation and the overall plan presented by senior management.

“Staff disagree with the Steering Group that the implementation of strategic growth plans ought to be dependent on short-term savings via staff headcount reduction and via ongoing threats to research, which is central to the quality of our provision.

“The timeline of the consultation does not allow to assess to what extent Expressions of Interest in Voluntary Severance will be taken forward, but this should not be taken as a reason to maintain staff in Modern Languages, Translation and Interpreting at risk of redundancy, especially given the recognised potential of our plans for income generation.”

At its December meeting, the University Court backed management's plans to stop admitting single honours applicants in Gaelic, French, German, and Spanish.

This came after a more ambitious plan, which would have seen the cessation of all language degree programmes, was withdrawn amid intense public backlash.


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