Students at the University of Huddersfield have spoken out in support of lecturers faced with losing their jobs.

The union Unison claims that 198 staff face compulsory redundancy before August, around 12% of the university workforce.

Students on two courses affected – Geography and Environmental and Analytical Science and English Literature – say their degree prospects will be damaged by the loss of lecturers at a key time in their studies.

A group of second year Geoscience students have written an open letter to university Vice-Chancellor Prof Bob Cryan warning of the impact on their education.

The students described the “handling and timing” of the redundancy announcement as “extremely poor” causing a “great deal of anxiety and stress for students who should be focusing on their assignments, preparing for exams and planning for final year.”

The letter says “the loss of our lecturers at a pivotal time in our degree is highly distressing” and adds: “It is a great shame to lose out on the knowledge, guidance and support of our lecturers, which we have been incredibly grateful for over the past two years.

“Some students were hoping to work on final year research projects that align with their specialised expertise, but will no longer have this opportunity, since they are being forced to take their skills elsewhere.

“Some of us are considering transferring to another university to complete the remainder of our studies, which is not a decision we take lightly, but is potentially a better option than staying on a course we feel is being treated as unimportant and disposable.

“This feeling is only compounded by the multi-million-pound investments we see in the new National Health Innovation Campus, and a range of other projects over the next decade, which has, until now, felt like something to be proud of as a part of the university.

“It is now difficult to feel this way when we are impacted by course closures and redundancies.”

The University of Huddersfield contributes £300 million a year to the local economy.

An English Literature student has also written to Huddersfield Hub to highlight “untenable” job cuts set to do damage to the English Literature department.

The student wrote: “Following a round of job cuts last summer, the English Literature department was drastically depleted leaving just four lecturers.

“As you can imagine, this year has been an enormous strain for the lecturers who have had to somehow teach, support and mark the work of almost 100 undergraduate students, in addition to supporting postgraduate students.

“I have no idea how they have coped, especially with one of the four lecturers taking a sabbatical following Christmas leaving three to cover his work.

“The lecturers within the department are all phenomenal, despite the obvious strain they have been under this year they have continued to deliver exceptional lectures and have supported many students who face hardships including struggles with mental health.

“They have consistently showed their humanity and it is for this reason that I wish to show them mine.”

The student said two of the four lecturers received an email “out of the blue” saying their jobs were at risk.

“If they both lose their jobs, this leaves the department in a situation wherein it has just two lecturers to educate and support the remaining students.

“I am now facing a situation where my dissertation supervisor may lose his job, thus I will not receive adequate support during the most pivotal year of my degree.”

The student said that lecturers were not just “figures on a spreadsheet” but “incredible humans who have shaped and altered our lives.”

The student said a protest would be held outside the Queensgate campus at 10am on May 23.



Prof Cryan was contacted for comment and in a statement the university said: “Since 2012, UK undergraduate tuition fees have increased by only 2.8%, from £9,000 to £9,250, despite inflation surging by over 50%. This has precipitated a financial crisis in the university sector, affecting many institutions including ours.

“We are now among the 40% of universities facing budget deficits in 2023/4, further exacerbated by a 44% sector-wide decline in international student enrolments in January 2024 due to changes in government immigration policy. Rising staff costs, particularly in pension contributions, further strain our budget.

“Despite these challenges, our university has demonstrated resilience, maintaining high standards with TEF Gold and Ofsted Outstanding awards, and forging research partnerships with most of the top 100 universities globally.

“We contribute approximately £300 million annually to the local economy, underscoring our crucial economic role.

“We previously initiated restructuring and voluntary schemes to navigate ongoing sector-wide financial pressures but, like many universities, must now implement a transformational change program.

“This includes reducing our workforce by 12% to ensure financial sustainability and prepare for a challenging future where tuition fees and immigration policy are unlikely to change.

“Our commitment to educational excellence remains unwavering as we adapt to these economic realities.

“Our strategies, while challenging, are essential to continue providing world-class education and research, and to play a significant role in regional employment and economic growth.

“This strategic pivot is not merely a response to immediate challenges but a proactive effort to secure a dynamic and sustainable future for our university.”

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