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Open Letter from professors and other senior staff

Published: 18th May, 2021

An open letter to members of the University of Leicester Executive Board, copied to members of Senate, Council and Court

We are a group of professors and other senior staff currently employed at the University.

We are writing to express our concern at the current plans for extensive compulsory redundancies within the University. We note that the damage extends far beyond the 26 colleagues who yesterday received notice of compulsory redundancy. We acknowledge the dozens of staff who have been pressurised into accepting ‘voluntary severance’ or who have resigned in disgust. We acknowledge that every single one of the 145 staff originally classed as ‘at risk’ have suffered harm, along with their families, friends, colleagues and students. These include academics in Business, English, Informatics, Mathematics and in the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour. They also include many professional staff, including colleagues in Education Services, Library User Services and Estates & Digital Services who support teaching and learning across the University.

We are concerned at the principle of compulsory redundancies. In the past, compulsory redundancies have generally been avoided at our University, while threatened redundancies on such a scale are almost unheard of in the sector as a whole.

We are concerned at the absence of a clear rationale for making redundancies, or for the selection of particular groups of staff. In particular, the relevance of the University’s finances has been opaque to those concerned. As far as we are aware, all the groups of academic and professional services staff at risk have a valuable contribution to make to the functioning and success of the University going forward. 

We are concerned at the inadequacy of the redundancy consultation procedure, which was experienced by those affected as lacking in engagement, with no meaningful consideration of, or response to, alternative proposals they put forward. This seems to reflect a wider and very worrying trend within decision making processes with the University which seem to be conducted without the usual expectations of consultation and participation with relevant stakeholders. It is of great concern to us that critical consideration and alternative perspectives appear to be overruled or silenced.

We are deeply concerned at the breach of academic freedom in the decision to select candidates for redundancy in the School of Business on the basis of the intellectual approaches imputed to their past writings and research. This is a compromising of academic integrity which is without precedent in other redundancy processes at the University and elsewhere.

Finally, we are concerned at the clear danger that the current redundancy process will damage the University’s reputation, among both academics and potential students. The process has already led to widespread criticism within the sector, which in turn has attracted significant media attention, both locally and nationally. This week, the University’s UCU branch has initiated industrial action, while the national UCU has called an academic boycott of the University.

We recognise of course that there are financial pressures upon the University, due to its ambitious building plans, and the impact of the pandemic. Nevertheless, as senior academics who are committed to the University’s success, we believe that, for its long-term health, these planned redundancies ought not to be proceeded with. We raise these concerns exactly because we are a group of senior staff who care deeply about the future of the University. We care about upholding values of integrity, respect and academic freedom and fostering the positive academic community which attracted us here in the first place and for many of us, has sustained long years of service. Looking to the future, as an institution we need to be able to repair and rebuild, and the restoration of trust in decision-making and governance process is at the heart of this.

For that reason, we invite you use your powers, as the University’s leadership team, to reconsider the current course of action. We would urge you to pause, to reconsider, and to reverse the planned redundancies, and any related voluntary severance or changes of contractual status and to consider changes that need to be made to ensure that governance processes are participatory and consultative.

Signed by:

Phil Almond, Professor, School of Business
Jo Appleby, Associate Professor, School of Archaeology and Ancient History
Subir Bose, PGR Tutor, ULSB
Michael J Branney, Professor of Volcanology, School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Kimberley Brayson, Associate Professor/Director of Education, Law
Paul Brook, Co-Director, Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures (CSWEF) / Associate Professor of Sociology of Work and Employment, Work and Employment Division, School of Business
Gavin Brown, Professor of Political Geography and Deputy Head of School, Geography, Geology and the Environment
William Gibson Burrell, Professor of Organization Theory, School of Business
Andrew Colman, Professor of Psychology, Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour
Nicola Cooper, Professor, Health Sciences

Pablo Cortes, Chair in Civil Justice, Law
Matthias Dahm, Professor in Economics, School of Business (EFA)
Anne Marie D’Arcy, Associate Professor in Medieval and Renaissance English, Arts
Ruslan Davidchack, Professor of Mathematical Modelling and Computation, Mathematics and Actuarial Science
Sanjit Dhami, Professor of Economics, School of Business/ Economics
Frances Deepwell, Director Leicester Learning Institute, Library, Learning and Information Services
Francois du Bois, Professor of Law (and past Head of School), Leicester Law School
Ian Eperon, Professor of Biochemistry, MCB
Thomas Erlebach, Professor of Computer Science, School of Informatics
Corinne Fowler, Professor of Postcolonial Literature, School of Arts
Fabian Frenzel, ULSB Director of Impact, ULSB
Will Green, Professor in Innovation, Operations and Knowledge Management, School of Business
Anne-Marie Greene, Professor of Work, Employment and Diversity, Business/Work and Employment
Emmanuil Georgoulis, Head of Applied Mathematics, Mathematics and Actuarial Science
Martine Hamann, Associate Professor of Neurosciences, Department of Neurosciences, Psychology and Behaviour
Nicholas Anthony Hartell, Chair of Neuroscience, Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour
Andrew Hopper, Director of the Centre for English Local History, HyPIR
Sally Horrocks, Associate Prof in Contemporary British History, Leicester ESRC DTP Lead, HyPIR
Stephanie Hubbard, Associate Professor, Health Sciences
Simon James, Professor of Archaeology, School of Archaeology & Ancient History
Gawen Jenkin, Professor of Applied Geology, Geography, Geology and the Environment
Athina Karatzogianni, Professor, School of Media, Communication & Sociology
Alexander Korb, Associate Professor in Modern European History, HYPIR
Georgios Kokkinidis, Associate Professor in Work and Organisation / Programme Leader for BA Business and Management, School of Business, Management and Organisation Division
Charalambos Kyriacou, Professor, Genetics and Genome Biology
Effie Lai-Chong Law, Professor in Human-Computer Interaction, School of Informatics
Loretta Lees, Professor of Human Geography, Geography, Geology and the Environment
Simon Lilley, Professor of Information and Organisation, School of Business
Toby Lincoln, Associate Professor, HyPIR
Pascale Lorber, Associate Professor, Law
Ruth Luthi-Carter, Chair of Neurobiology of Behaviour, College of Life Sciences
Peter Lunt, Professor of Media and Communication, Media, Communication and Sociology
Eamonn Mallon, Associate Dean of Research, College of Life Sciences
Bradley Manktelow, Professor of Medical Statistics, Department of Health Sciences
Tom Matheson, Reader. Chair of BBSRC KFWG, Lead of Mechanisms of Animal Behaviour Research Group, NPB
Kaitlynn Mendes, Professor of Gender, Media and Sociology, Media, Communication and Sociology
Steve Milan, Professor, Physics and Astronomy
Peter Moody, Professor of Structural Biology, Molecular & Cell Biology
Peter Nolan, Professor of Work and Employment, Business
Susan Page, Professor of Physical Geography, School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Martin Phillips, Professor of Human Geography, Geography, Geology and Environment
Deborah Price, Associate Professor, ULSB
Bernard Ryan, Professor, Law
Philip Shaw, Professor of Romantic Studies, Arts
Daniel Smith, Associate Professor, School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Victoria Stewart, Reader in Modern and Contemporary Literature, School of Arts
Alex Sutton, Professor of Medical Statistics, Health Sciences
Roey Sweet, Professor of Urban History, HyPIR
Michael Sweeting, Associate Professor, Health Sciences
Kevin Tansey, Professor of Remote Sensing, Geography, Geology and the Environment
Sarah Tarlow, Professor, School of Archaeology and Ancient History
Ivan Tyukin, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Mathematics
David Twell, Professor of Plant Biology, Genetics and Genome Biology
Caroline Upton, Professor, School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Tanya Vladimirova, Professor, School of Informatics and School of Engineering
Geerten W. Vuister, Chair in Structural Biology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
Dawn Watkins, Professor of Law, Law
Joan Woodhouse, Associate Professor, School of Education
Glynne Williams, Head of Division, School of Business
Martin Wood, Associate Professor/MSc Healthcare Management programme lead, ULSB
Ruth Young, Professor of Archaeology, School of Archaeology & Ancient History
Jens Zinke, Professor in Palaeobiology, Geography, Geology and the Environment