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Disquiet in the ranks

Published: 17th May, 2018

This afternoon, Professor Paul Boyle emailed all University of Leicester employees with a ‘University financial planning update’. The content and language was all too familiar. The president and vice-chancellor informed us that ‘we continue to face a number of financial issues, both local and national’. He also wrote

Whilst other universities have reduced their staff costs in relation to income, our costs have continued to rise. Additionally, student recruitment has become more challenging as our rankings have fallen and – while much is being done to improve the student experience – it currently remains a challenge. We also face issues with our ageing stock of buildings and our digital infrastructure.

The VC continued

In response to the above, the University Council has given strong support to the University Leadership Team’s approach to reducing the proportion of income spent on staff salaries, from its current level, which is one of the highest in the sector, to a level closer to that of our peers. Great progress has been made towards this target through post-control, the rationalisation of other financial demands over the last few months, and by revising the planning process so that the three Colleges and Professional Services are working within agreed financial envelopes.

Another instance of trying to achieve excellence by aiming for the average!


Leicester UCU has taken its own look at the figures. The chart below shows the trend in staff costs as a proportion of income. What this shows is there is nothing to be concerned about: staff costs now (as proportion of income) are in line with historical norms. University of Leicester is pretty boring really: it is a beacon of stability!

If Paul Boyle wishes to take ‘resolute action, which will include targeted investment and may include a small number of targeted redundancies or voluntary severance’, then he really needs to do better than this.

Since he refers to the our university’s fall in the rankings, we have also taken a look at historical performance there, looking at both the overall ranking and the ranking for student-staff ratio – since this most closely corresponds to spending on staff salaries, the item that our president and vice-chancellor wishes to cut. We’ll let the two charts speak for themselves.