What is happening? (the short version)
The Vice Chancellor’s Group have proposed some large scale changes to the academic structure (the structure of departments and faculties) and are aiming to achieve a £10 million saving to the overall budget in the next three years.
They have set out these plans, and made them available to staff on My.Anglia here (login required). These documents have yet to be made available to students by the university. As the primary representatives for student voice we have received these documents and are sharing them with you.
For you as a student, it is important that we inform you to the best of our ability with the documents provided by the university. Currently we have received a budget saving document, an explanation of the proposed changes to faculties and a document created to inform students of questions your Full-time Officer team has already asked the university.
Here are the key documents produced by the University:
The proposed new faculty and schools plan
Strategic budget savings plan
Academic Restructure plan
The university is moving to four faculties containing 13 schools:
- Faculty of Science and Engineering
- Faculty of Health and Medical Science
- Faculty of Business and Law
- Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
There are no proposals to close any courses as a result of this restructure. However, some courses have moved into a different faculty.
What the Officers are doing
Following a meeting with the Students’ Union the University has agreed to send a communication to students about the proposals. We will be sharing the news with students and encouraging them to feedback to the University directly and through us. In addition, we felt it was essential that the University took responsibility for communicating their plans to students, and they recognised the uncertainty they had created by not doing this yet. The Officers will continue to meet regularly with representatives from the University to discuss the progress of the proposals and will make plans for our response on behalf of students accordingly.
We are currently unclear on how these changes will be communicated to individual students whose courses have moved faculties. Please read the extended article to see if your course is included. However, this is not an exhaustive list and if you are concerned we recommend you submit your questions/concerns to the consultation email below.
What we need you to do
Please all take the time to read through the faculty academic restructure proposals article below and read the questions we asked the University to answer. It is of the utmost importance that these structures work for the benefit of students and to do this we need you to respond to this with your comments and feedback.
Respond to the consultation here
This consultation is set to end on June 30th.
Find out more (the long version)
These proposals have been developed by Vice Chancellor’s Group (VCG) and have been discussed with the Deans at the VC Deans group on Thursday 19 April and Corporate Management Team on Thursday 26 April. This was then circulated to all staff and the Students’ Union in the second week of May.
This proposal incorporates suggestions and amendments from all those involved so far. These conversations are yet to include the Students’ Union or student input. This is why it is so important to get responses from you, the students, before the end of the consultation process.
The University is proposing the following:
- A new academic structure based on four faculties and 13 multi-disciplinary schools.
- To merge the current Faculty of Health Social Care and Education (FHSCE) and the Faculty of Medical Science (FMS) into one faculty called the Faculty of Health and Medical Science (FHMS) which would deliver the large majority of our health programmes and research. Please see separate paper providing a detailed rationale for this proposed merger.
- The changes proposed for Arts, Law and Social Sciences will see a name change to Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) – The University is proposing to move social policy out of FHSCE into this faculty and to move Law into an entirely new faculty (Business and Law).
- Bringing Business (LAIBS) and Law (taken from ALSS) together offers teaching and academic collaborations and the opportunity to deliver the same level to support to students with less staff recourse and duplication. “The recent Tribal benchmarking exercise (a benchmarking exercise carried out for the University by an external company, Tribal) showed us to be quite significantly out of kilter with our peers in terms of numbers and costs of senior academic staff and our academic administration, and whilst this is only a guide, it does give us a clear signal that there is scope for savings and efficiencies.”
- The proposals for the Faculty of Science and Technology will mean a name change, becoming Science and Engineering, and will enable them to place increased focus on growth in areas such as architecture, engineering and computing. This will also see courses moving out of this faculty.
- Savings accrued from the implementation of this new academic structure will be prioritised for reinvestment in the university’s core academic mission as well as helping to make ARU more resilient in the face of the external pressures - including changing patterns of student demand. The University has yet to outline what this actually means.
It is important to note that some of the aspects of these proposals are likely to change following the consultations. It is also important to note that these proposals will result in some staff being made redundant. This is a very difficult and sensitive time for our lecturers and staff within the university. As a Union, our primary concern is with you, our students, but we care immensely about staff as well. Without excellent teaching and professional services, your university would be fundamentally different.
The timetable for the restructure is as follows but could be subject to change:
Shortly after the Students’ Union was informed, Laura (Vice President FST) and two members of our senior management team, had an initial meeting with Aletta Norval (PVC Education) and Helen Valentine (Deputy Vice Chancellor), who are leading the University’s restructure project. This was the first time we have had the chance to discuss any of the proposals with the University since we became aware of their plans. Now that we know more about the plans, we wanted to share with you what they are as it stands and some next steps that the Officers will be taking and that we will need you to take.
Summary of feedback from Aletta (PVC Education) & Helen (Deputy Vice Chancellor)
Laura led a meeting with Aletta & Helen to find out more about what their plans are.
- We raised our disappointment that the Students’ Union hadn’t been involved sooner and have now established a commitment that we will be regularly updated from now on.
- We spent a long time talking about the communication with students – they accepted and understood why this was important. They are going to send out communications to students around the proposals and include some FAQs for students and we have helped them identify what those FAQs should cover.
- Education – they acknowledged that it’s confusing having FHMS and not including education or social care, but if they include all of the new schools it becomes a very long name – they seemed to be open to suggestions of what an alternate name could be and have had conversations with staff around this. Do you have an idea? Submit it as part of your response!
- AMT/Gaming is moving because of collaboration opportunities and staff duplication, but they acknowledged the issues around learning communities and uprooting scientists into a much more creative/arty faculty – there may be a chance for us to help lessen any impact, e.g. through course based societies. Are you in AMT/Gaming? How do you respond to this news?
- AHSS now has no presence in Chelmsford – this is a conscious decision to put staff welfare first. At the moment, instead of 95% of staff in Cambridge, it will be 100%. Law will then be moved to be with the Business school.
- They University is looking to find a £10mil saving in total, by the end of three years, to create a new normal spending budget.
- Tribal recommendations (recommendations produced for the University by an external company) were taken, and then used alongside the University’s background knowledge to map where ARU was (over)spending against its strategic plan – if overspending was in a priority area then it was less likely to be cut.
- Professional services – the budget/staff cuts have been worked on by individual departments already – Aletta was adamant it wouldn’t affect students/front-facing staff and that, for example, Student Services were actually trying to increase spending in student facing services.
- Associate lecturers – Helen said that PhD students were not routinely considered associate lecturers as teaching was part of their bursary and not something they were paid for, however we still have some questions about this, such as PhD students who are not on bursaries who might be getting paid to do it. Are you a PhD student and have some feedback? Respond to the consultation with your views!
- Estates expenditure – The University is aware that these are difficult cuts to make. We will be on the new committee which is deciding what takes priority, and we were reassured that it will continue to prioritise student facing spaces.
- Travel –This was mainly focused on Senior Management Teams and overseas travel. There were often five or six people for graduation ceremonies travelling to the overseas partners, which is excessive. The University is also looking to put meetings that mandate travelling onto set days rather than travelling more times a week.
Thank you all for taking the time to read through this and to submit your comments. The officer team will keep you updated.
All the best,
Jamie, President of Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union
& The Executive Officers