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Predicted £35m losses sees UEA ask staff to take pay cuts and cut hours

PUBLISHED: 10:32 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 09 July 2020

Entrance to the UEA off Earlham Road in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley

Entrance to the UEA off Earlham Road in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley

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The University of East Anglia has revealed it is facing losses of up to £35m next year due to the impact of coronavirus.

Students at University of East Anglia. Picture: SuppliedStudents at University of East Anglia. Picture: Supplied

Senior staff are being asked to take voluntary pay cuts and other staff to reduce their hours and take an equivalent reduction in salary as part of measures to address the financial impact of the pandemic.

The UEA, which employs 3,712 people, said it expected to be “significantly impacted” by a fall in the numbers of overseas students next year, as well as “uncertainty” about the choices being made by UK and EU students.

Its 3,000 international students often pay twice or three times the £9,250 a year paid by their UK counterparts.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis supporting UEA lecturers during a strike in 2018 over a pension row. Picture: Stuart GoodmanNorwich South MP Clive Lewis supporting UEA lecturers during a strike in 2018 over a pension row. Picture: Stuart Goodman

A UEA spokesman said: “Immediate action has been taken to manage and secure the personal, academic and financial impacts for 2019/2020. Looking ahead to the next academic year we believe we will face between a £30m to £35m financial impact.

“We are acting now to address the longer term effects to ensure we can continue to deliver excellence in education and secure our future staff, student and research success.

MORE: MP warns coronavirus fall in students would put UEA in “great jeopardy”

“Throughout this time we have been engaging with our lenders to ensure they are fully aware of the university’s financial position.

Students at University of East Anglia. Picture: SuppliedStudents at University of East Anglia. Picture: Supplied

“We have also been working productively with the unions and have offered all staff the voluntary temporary proposal to reduce their working week and take an equivalent reduction in salary.

“We are also asking senior staff to take a temporary voluntary pay reduction. Both of these schemes are designed to address the immediate challenges we face.”

The University and College Union’s general secretary, Jo Grady, has called on the government “to step in and guarantee lost funding for universities so they can weather this crisis and lead our recovery on the other side”.

Professor John Last, vice-chancellor of Norwich Universtity of the Arts/NUA. Picture: Antony KellyProfessor John Last, vice-chancellor of Norwich Universtity of the Arts/NUA. Picture: Antony Kelly

“We need a comprehensive support package that protects jobs, preserves our academic capacity and guarantees all universities’ survival,” she added.

A National Union of Students spokesperson said: “The coronavirus crisis has exposed many of the flaws inherent in running our education like a market. When funding is so unstable, it’s no wonder that our universities and the jobs of thousands of academic and support staff are now at risk.

“We are of course especially concerned about the risk to students that this instability poses. You can’t assess the risk to universities without thinking of the risks to students - both to their education and their wellbeing.”

City College Norwich vice principal Jerry White. Picture: Richard Steer/City College NorwichCity College Norwich vice principal Jerry White. Picture: Richard Steer/City College Norwich

In April Norwich South MP Clive Lewis wrote to ministers calling for the government to take “substantial and decisive action” to secure the future of UEA and Norwich’s other higher education institutions.

He said: “Universities like UEA, which have significant numbers of international students, will be hit hardest by the falls in fee and grant income.

“But it’s not just the future of local higher education which is at stake here. Universities are vital anchor institutions in local economies.”

MORE: Hundreds sign letter to UEA over protection for teaching staff roles

In a statement, the Department For Education has previously said a government package announced in May allows UK universities to access business support and job retention schemes, while the sector will also benefit from the pulling forward of £2.6bn in tuition fee payments to ease case flow problems.

The pressure is less acute on Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) and City College Norwich that are less reliant on overseas students.

Jerry White, deputy principal at City College Norwich, said: “Almost 98pc of our 900 higher education students are from Norfolk and Suffolk.

“Also because we predominantly teach in very small groups to professional and technical students the considerations about what September might look like are also very different to a university trying to fit 400 people into a lecture theatre.”

Professor John Last, vice-chancellor of NUA, said: “The financial landscape facing universities has been uncertain for some time, despite the significant role they play in their regional economies.

“First of all from the review of tuition fees and university funding before the last general election, then from Covid-19 which has affected every aspect of our operations.

“At NUA, we’ve done everything we can to reduce the risk to students and staff while maintaining our academic standards.

“NUA’s financial foundations are secure in the face of this uncertainty - and, in line with rising demand for student places in recent years, applications for places are strong again for September 2020 despite the pandemic.”


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