The University of Stirling was recently named Scottish University of the Year by the Sunday Times, in recognition of the University’s “outstanding student experience and record for innovation and high quality teaching”. It may take a lover of Communist-era concrete construction to fully appreciate what the paper called “the number of listed architectural gems“, but the campus is one of the most scenic in Britain, and thankfully the university is beginning to show signs of environmental awareness. Its placing in the People and Planet Green League improved this year, up to 97th (third class honours) from 106th (fail). Obviously there is still much room for improvement, particularly regarding ethical investment, waste and average CO2 emissions per head.
However, “the most improved university in Scotland” now faces another significant challenge. In March the Scottish Funding Council announced changes in allocations following the latest assessment of research. Stirling University received a 1.6% cut in funding, mainly due to errors in its submission to the assessment exercise. The university announced a voluntary severance scheme in June, aimed at shedding 140 members of staff, nearly 10% of the workforce. The outcome of the voluntary scheme is to be announced on Monday. Although the university is likely to be close to its target of 140, there are fears that it will still press ahead with compulsory redundancies in early 2010 despite predictions of a budget surplus this year. The University and College Union said that paying off almost a tenth of the workforce is completely out of proportion to the funding cut.
The cleaners, lecturers and support staff who achieved the accolade of Scottish University of the Year are now threatened with redundancy, and so Unite, Unison and the UCU are calling on staff and students to lobby the University Court on Monday 19. October. The unions want management to work directly with unions and staff to resolve the financial situation and allow the university to continue providing the “outstanding student experience”.
The Scottish Green Party believes that education can transform lives, and that our colleges and universities have important roles in strengthening our economy and in building equality and social justice. We are opposed to job cuts that will inevitably reduce the services and support available to students.
If you would like to make your voice heard, the demonstration will begin at 1pm on the Cottrell lawn outside the Court Building prior to the meeting at 2pm.