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University of Kent’s consultation plans could see more than 50 job losses as nine courses are phased out

Nine courses at the University of Kent could be axed as bosses look to make cuts amid financial problems.

Documents seen by KentOnline reveal 58 staff have been put at “risk of redundancy” as nine courses could be “phased out” at both Medway and Canterbury campuses.

Gillingham Building at the University of Kent, in Chatham. Stock picture
Gillingham Building at the University of Kent, in Chatham. Stock picture

Anthropology, art history, comparative literature, English language and linguistics, health and social care, modern languages, music and audio technology, and philosophy and religious studies could all be cut.

The prestigious journalism course is also set to be a casualty of the cuts.

A collective consultation started on Tuesday,January 30, while an individual consultation for the staff who are at risk of redundancy began yesterday (January 31).

In the documents, the university confirmed lecturers and staff have been informed by their division directors, received a letter and been invited to one-on-one sessions.

The consultation will end on Thursday, February 29 with no changes being made until then.

Rochester Building at the University of Kent, in Chatham. Stock picture
Rochester Building at the University of Kent, in Chatham. Stock picture

This comes after KentOnline revealed the leases of the university’s Rochester and Gillingham buildings in the Medway campus are planned to be handed over to the University of Greenwich as well as 40 voluntary redundancies.

When asked how many staff had left the university over the last five years it refused to comment.

It is planned for builders to be sent in to reconfigure the two buildings over the Easter break when students are away on holiday.

The remaining departments will all be moved into the Medway building, with some staff speculating on the long-term viability of the campus.

The university is facing a series of major problems at the same time including a drop in foreign students applying since Brexit and its ranking fall by 26 places over the last eight years, according to the Complete University Guide.

Gillingham Building at the University of Kent, in Chatham. Stock picture
Gillingham Building at the University of Kent, in Chatham. Stock picture

Added to this, bosses have battled to manage finances – constructing buildings in Medway they’re now moving out of – while income from capped tuition fees has fallen due to inflationary pressures and dwindling applications.

KentOnline also understands plans involving the university to transform a former police station into a multi-million-pound creative hub are being looked at.

Working with Medway Council and the Historic Dockyard Chatham, The Docking Station aims to provide working space for graduates, shared workspace for academic and non-academic staff, artists and technology experts.

Cllr Vince Maple – leader of Medway Council – has reacted to the proposed cuts, saying: “It is always concerning to hear reports of this nature.

Medway Council leader Cllr Vince Maple
Medway Council leader Cllr Vince Maple

“University of Kent is a valued partner and one of the original signatories to the One Medway Charter.

“I’ve written to the Vice Chancellor to seek further clarification on the situation and to understand potential impacts on the Medway campus specifically.”

A University of Kent spokesman said: “Like many in the sector, we are responding to a number of financial challenges including the fixed tuition fee, rising costs and changes in student behaviour.

“As part of this we are exploring changes to our size and shape to ensure we are well placed to grow in priority areas in the future, which includes phasing out future recruitment in some areas where we no longer feel we can be competitive due to national student number projections.

"We are now in a period of consultation with staff on these proposals, working closely with them and staff and trade union representatives before any final decisions are taken. Our focus in this will be supporting staff being consulted with on the plans, including working to our Redundancy Avoidance Agreement to ensure we prioritise voluntary redundancy, vacancy review and reduced hours as far as possible.

"None of the proposed plans being discussed would impact current students' ability to graduate or complete their courses and as with any proposed organisational changes, we will do everything we can to minimise the impact on their studies."

In regards to the university’s presence in Medway, the spokesman said: "We remain fully committed to our Medway campus and our contribution to the region. Our newest development for Medway – the Docking Station – has just received planning permission and alongside Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Medway Council, our partners in the project, we look forward to it opening in 2025.

“Alongside this, we are looking at ways to refresh our portfolio offer so that we can grow in priority areas such as business, ensuring we have a vibrant offer at Medway that matches what students and employers are looking for.

"We are proud of our long-standing presence at the Pembroke campus and continue to see real potential in what we can do there, both in providing students with outstanding learning opportunities and in offering expert training to help fill local skills gaps.

“As co-signatories of the One Medway Charter, we are also determined to play a lead role in supporting the wider regeneration of the region, driving economic recovery and encouraging growth and inward investment wherever possible."

Meanwhile, the University of Greenwich has commented about rumoured plans for the buildings.

A spokesperson said: “We constantly talk to our partners on the Medway campus to explore ways of making best use of our space, however, no decision about any changes to the campus has been made at this point.”

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