To think that the redundancies at KCL are just the start of the landslide?

(63 Posts)
NCForVObviousReasons Fri 27-Jun-14 22:49:37

I work at KCL. I've changed my username as I don't want to out myself. KCL is currently making compulsory redundancies. Their own staff and students are outraged and have gone to the press (read the comments below these two articles). There is likely to be strike action. The timing absolutely stinks and the methodology seems questionable.

I know from my own experience that KCL has many fantastic academics and admin staff but it is not well run at a more senior level. I don't know if it's worse than others. But is this the tip of the iceberg? Are other universities heading in the same direction?

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Parietal Fri 27-Jun-14 22:55:50

i've read with interest, having several colleagues there.

I think my uni is OK, but who knows?

LastTango Fri 27-Jun-14 22:57:26

For those of us 'not in the know'.........who/what is/are KCL ??

MrsWinnibago Fri 27-Jun-14 22:58:22 looks bad for sure. sad But what does it mean? For the future of our universities? I thought they were one of our biggest exports...our education is desired abroad no?

AuraofDora Fri 27-Jun-14 22:58:38

Kings College London I guess

OberonTheHopeful Fri 27-Jun-14 23:09:52

It does look bad sad I do hope your job will safe OP.

I studied there and have some happy memories of that time. Despite it's size I always found it to be quite a friendly college. It does make me wonder about other universities, as I hadn't seen King's as particularly stuck for money. I'm sure I read in the alumni magazine not too long ago (or maybe it was) that they've been doing loads of rebuilding work.

itsnothingoriginal Fri 27-Jun-14 23:10:13

I work for a uni and its been awful for the last few years. So many redundancies, constant 'restructuring' and a totally cut throat environment for those left behind. I don't think HE is a great place to be at the moment. Sorry to hear about the compulsory redundancies - hope won't affect you OP?


Higheredserf Fri 27-Jun-14 23:20:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AnnaLegovah Fri 27-Jun-14 23:41:16

Sympathies OP. My uni employer almost went under a few years back, it was hell. No-one knew who would be left and the main culprits left with golden handshakes. Such is the way of things. Morale still hasnt recovered and despite recovering financially its still almost impossible to get anything bought. Its a culture of fear now.

If you can get out now I would, OP. But I think many other unis are suffering due to the funding changes. sad

NCForVObviousReasons Sat 28-Jun-14 07:00:27

Thanks for the sympathy, all! Sorry, KCL = King's College London. I gather that the management has spent a lot of money on a re-branding exercise and intends to re-launch the place as King's London. I think this is idiotic as it is widely known all over the world as KCL, to match UCL. However, what do I know?

I'm not directly affected by the redundancies. I know people who are, though. In any well-run workplace genuinely poor performance would be picked up by management and addressed at an early stage. It wouldn't be suddenly 'identified' when they want to save money. For Sir Robin Murray to speak out about this in public speaks volumes. He is one of the most respected psychiatrists and schizophrenia researchers in the UK and has spent his entire working life as an academic at the IOP.

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babybat Sat 28-Jun-14 07:50:04

I work for another Russell Group university, and the developments at Kings have really shocked me. HE has been a hard-pressed sector for many years, and some redundancies were expected around the REF, but not on this scale. It's hard to understand how a seemingly well-funded and research active university could be planning job losses on this scale. OP, you have my utmost sympathy, I hope it works out okay for you.

TheVioletHour Sat 28-Jun-14 07:55:41

Thanks for highlighting this it really is a public interest matter in terms of possible knock on effect to NHS services if medical teaching is decimated

2468Motorway Sat 28-Jun-14 07:59:40

I'm in a similar sector and the redundancies are very shocking. Across the three depts it looks like one in seven academics are being made redundant, so depressing.

PicaK Sat 28-Jun-14 08:03:36

Hmm, not entirely convinced. Lots of academics have their heads buried in the sand. Note how the senior professor refers to the financial forecasts etc that the "management" do as though it had nothing whatsoever to do with him.

Can you imagine any other business scenario in which someone so senior could get away with distancing themselves like this. And if it was so great as an independent unit - surely it would have stayed independent.

I suspect there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. It is hard for people to cope with change and to get to grips with it. But a system which weeds out poor performers (and they are using both teaching and publication success as determiners) is fair. If there are too many staff what else can they do?

Mumzy Sat 28-Jun-14 08:09:51

Is it me or do all academics talk in acronyms which means nothing to the average lay person: KCL, UCL IOP, HE, REF

EverythingCounts Sat 28-Jun-14 08:14:25

Most areas of work have their own jargon. It's not as is it only happens in academia - what about medicine, law, policing, science? I agree that in the title it would have been helpful to spell the whole name out.

NCForVObviousReasons Sat 28-Jun-14 08:27:24

UCL = University College London. One of the best known and most successful universities in the world.

KCL explained above. King's College London. By some measures one of the world's top 30 universities so also a very well-known acronym.

Maybe if you don't work or live in London these are less familiar.

HE = higher education.

IOP - explained in the article linked. Stands for Institute of Psychiatry. It's a school (like a department) within KCL but used to be a freestanding postgraduate teaching/research institution in its own right (within the University of London). It merged with King's not because it was failing (far from it) but because the University of London thought all the smaller institutions should merge with the bigger ones, probably for financial reasons. All the medical schools had to go in with the bigger colleges too.

REF = Research Excellence Framework. Anybody who works in a university will know about this because it's how the government decides how much money to give them. No particular reason why anybody outside a university should know about it, I suppose.

PicaK, I take it you don't work in a university. Finances are very complex. Academics have to manage the grants they get to fund their research. They do have to make sure any courses they run are financially viable. But other than that money is not the responsibility of your average academic. Heads of department have to worry about budgets. Ordinary academics don't.

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CerealMom Sat 28-Jun-14 08:36:09

As an x student of KCL I don't have quite the same warm and fuzzys of the academic staff of my dept. Group lectures only, no small tutorial groups, no personal tutor etc... However I was there early/mid 90s and not in the bio/med dept. Things have (probably) changed.

I am dismayed by the knock on effects to The Maudsley and other research projects. I know hindsight is a wonderful thing but why did IOP go to Kings and not Imperial or UCL for instance? I have friends within UCL/Imperial/Great Ormond St. Some med staff others not, but all concerned. These are depts/projects with real applications to us - the gen public.

If Kings are strapped for cash, can't the whole dept (if it could be carved out) go to another London College?

AnnaL, you're not at Met are you?

AnnaLegovah Sat 28-Jun-14 08:46:02

I'd rather not say tbh cereal, even on a site like this it could be traceable. Culture of fear at our place would put me in hot water if I said too much.

HE is not a good place to work right now and it has a knock-on effect with students - as they are paying so much in fees they quite rightly want good value for money.

DorisAllTheDay Sat 28-Jun-14 08:52:07

The city I live in has four universities, one of which is huge and prestigious, the others smaller but with ambition. Everywhere you look there seems to be building work associated with one or other of them - I live near a site where new student residences are going up (I understand from people who work at the University that they're intended for top-fee-paying international students), and there are other sites where swanky new conference facilities and so on are being built. I shudder to think of the amount of cash going into all those projects. Meanwhile students are taught in large groups with very little contact time - my DDs and the children of friends were mainly taught by postgraduate students on zero hours-type contracts and hardly ever saw much less spoke to any 'real' academics.

I don't know the sector in any detail, but it does seem to me that whatever cash universities have is being invested in building projects and in employing administrators on eye-watering salaries - with less and less to spend on employing academics and ensuring they have viable terms and conditions. I get that universities these days are businesses and have to be seen to impress with their buildings and facilities, but the pendulum seems to me to have swung too far, and the priorities are wrong.

WhereTheWildlingsAre Sat 28-Jun-14 08:53:25

I have to admit, I thought it read KFC grin

seagull70 Sat 28-Jun-14 08:54:52

I have a daughter about to start Kings in September (English Literature) - should we/she be worried?

I am very sorry to hear of the cuts, my heart goes out to all of you affected - it must be very worrying sad

dreamingbohemian Sat 28-Jun-14 09:02:19

I'm KCL as well (forgive me for not specifying) and this is really shocking. It seems like KCL is going down the American path, and not in a good way.

So much time and money has been sunk into silly rebranding (does King's London even make sense??) while longstanding departments have been decimated. It's very depressing. While my department is fairly 'safe' I think, I don't imagine I will be staying in academia long-term.

Revenant Sat 28-Jun-14 09:08:38

Doris - administrative staff salaries have not gone up in line with academic staff salaries ( and vice chancellors are classified as academic staff). Unis are spending money on buildings to increase student satisfaction survey results - however cutting academic staff won't recruit any more students. I would be a bit concerned about finances at Kings if i worked there, the surplus in the accounts has dropped significantly since last year. Other unis have borrowed money to fund buildings, the face that Kings didn't or couldn't do this speaks volumes about either their priorities or their finances...

TheHoneyBadger Sat 28-Jun-14 09:17:09

i was made redundant from a successful FE college at the beginning of the year as my role was more of an icing rather than cake role iyswim. there were three waves of redundancies and i finally got axed in the last wave. in some ways it was a relief as conditions got worse with each wave as roles just disappeared and no one knew how to circumnavigate the hole left behind or departments became so short staffed that it was hard to get things done you needed doing by them and because the general atmosphere changed in the course of a year from a really positive place where everyone seemed to be stakeholders who took pride in their jobs to just another grumbling moaning us and them stress field.

don't know if the same is on the cards for HE. you'd think with the fees they were commanding they'd be safer (FE relies heavily on govt funding and they've just withdrawn a ton of it both from colleges and certain age groups of students meaning recruitment is really hard as 19-24 year olds have to pay for basic qualifications).

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