Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/583/7434
No to cuts at Kings
JOB LOSSES, previously mainly hitting the ex-polytechnic universities, are starting to threaten older universities. A student reports from Kings College London, which has announced "substantial cost cuts" with "job losses probable".
SO FAR, staff posts in Information Retrieval are to be cut by half and downgraded. Course and even department cuts have also been announced. The engineering department is likely to close down at the end of 2010, with the final decision due soon.
Students are angry that this was announced without any consultation. What value will a degree be from an ex-department? The department is still making a profit, but it seems not to attract enough research investment.
Kings plans to focus on 'profitable' areas such as Medicine, hoping to attract more funding from pharmaceutical companies in particular. Marketisation of education means that those areas that cannot attract enough research investment from big business will be deemed unviable, regardless of the benefit it produces for students, staff and society.
The plans have not been completely revealed yet. Principal Rick Trainor's emails to staff in April failed to show the need for cuts. He claims a deficit of £14 million a year out of revenues of £450 million, despite reserves and endowments of £260 million and a recent upgrade in the university's financial status by accountancy firm Standard and Poor from 'AA-' to 'AA'.
Trainor supports raising the cap on tuition fees to fill in the funding gap. The government is starving higher education of funding, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where shortfalls must be made up through student contributions.
The only way to stop this is for staff and students to fight back, to reject the management's arguments. Why should the cuts come from the bottom of the ladder?
The Principal and his team will have their wages frozen for 2009-2010, but workers will face unemployment, cuts across higher education and greater pressure at work with reduced salary for those who keep their jobs. Staff and students have set up a No Cuts At Kings campaign.
In The Socialist 10 June 2009:
Socialist Party election campaign analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party publication
International socialist news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs