Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
Sign in to follow this  
The Masked Tulip

Bit Of A Crisis Forming In Welsh Unis

Recommended Posts

You know that bold statement by the Welsh Assembly that Wales would not charge Welsh people who go to Unis - basically a fundamental political election promise by Welsh Labour.

Well...

What it actually meant in reality is that the Weslh Assembly will pay the uni fees of every Welsh student attending university.

Problem is, Wales can't afford it.

So what is now happening is that Welsh Unis are, like those in England, budgeting on about 9K a year fee per student. Wales can't afford this and it looks as if 4K a year is the most that Wales can afford. The Welsh Assembly is saying it will pay up to 9K a year dependent upon certain criteria that the Welsh Unis have to meet. Alas, no Welsh Uni can meet the criteria the Welsh Assembly has set out.

So where does that leave things?

Basically the Welsh Unis need 9K a year from each student but look like getting about 4K. That means a loss.

That means potential job losses and potential entire departments being cut.

Some Welsh Uni lecturing staff have been voting in recent weeks a choice between salary cuts or jobs losses - guess which they voted for in Swansea Uni?

Yes, everyone thinks they are too important to fire.

So what is now beginning to look likely that a Welsh person looking to go to Uni will be better off trying to get into an English Uni as the Assembly will be forced to pay the full 9K a year fees... which might prompt an exodus of Welsh students from Wales which would be a godsend for English Unis as they know they will get the fees paid... unless the Labour Party running the Welsh Assembly make a dramatic u-turn on one of its prominent policies.

I am told of one Welsh Uni department that was basically cut 2 years ago - so far, no one has been fired and the staff are crrying on regardless.

However, the uni fees start this Autumn and, re the above, there is an awful lot to be sorted out in the coming months.

Bottom line, Welsh Unis cannot afford the numbers of staff and departments they have unless they get the full 9K per student, but the Welsh Assembly can't afford it.

That means job cuts and entire departments going... but if departments that were cut 2 years ago still are emplying all their staff... what can happen over the Summer months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are English Unis hiring in this recession?

Once one Uni has started charging £9k they will all have to, or they will lose their best staff. There are deaths and retirements on gold plated pensions to replace.

The bankers wouldn't lie and they say they have to pay such amounts or their best staff would leave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once one Uni has started charging £9k they will all have to, or they will lose their best staff. There are deaths and retirements on gold plated pensions to replace.

Hence the crisis - either the Labour led Welsh Assembly does a massive u-turn and agrees to pay... but it can't afford to... or the Welsh unis are going to have implement massive cuts. But as it seemingly takes them forever to do anything...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Won't the best staff leave because they will be able to earn more at the England Unis charging £9k?

There is a UK-wide collective bargaining agreement in place that sets academics' salaries. The only wriggle room is that academics who bring in a lot of external research funding and/or are media stars frequently negotiate contracts that enable them to pocket the proceeds of their extra-curricular activities while retaining their standard university salary for doing very little work (for the actual university); but as far as the institution is concerned, they're paid exactly the same as their colleagues on the same grade.

The employers have been trying to break the collective agreement for several years now, but for some reason have not pushed this as far as they have pushed the pay freeze and changes to the USS (lecturers' pension scheme).

I do wonder why they haven't pushed this, as it is likely to be less controversial than the pension changes. I find it bizarre that my job description includes a lot of duties that my counterpart in a post-92, earning exactly the same money, does not have to do, e.g. carry out and publish original research and supervise PhD students. If the JNCHS decided to ram through an end to the collective bargaining agreement and let institutions set the pay levels for their academics locally, I'm sure that the resulting strike would get a lot less support than the one over the pension scheme. Of course what would happen is that most of the teaching staff in post-92s would see their pay fall in real terms very quickly, because most of them would not be able to make the jump to the traditional sector (I did, simply because I devoted most of my spare time to research during my first post-PhD job in a post-92, and therefore built up an equivalent publications record) and would have nowhere else to go. Within the traditional sector, a market would develop between departments in different institutions, with individual academics finding their market value within it. If such a system were introduced, I doubt very much if most of the academics at Oxbridge would strike in support of the the staff at the University of Luton wanting to remain on the same salaries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hence the crisis - either the Labour led Welsh Assembly does a massive u-turn and agrees to pay... but it can't afford to... or the Welsh unis are going to have implement massive cuts. But as it seemingly takes them forever to do anything...

Welsh uni's are hiring, I went for ant interview at one (chair level) earlier this year and one of my ex students recently had an interview at another for a lectureship a few weeks ago

One the train to s. Wales I was chatting to a student from Shrewsbury who complained that they lived a few yards from the border and her sister would have to pay the full 9k whereas neighbours would only pay 4k, madness

Talking to colleagues the feeling was that Wales would protect Swansea and Cardiff, but i don't see how they can. In fact it could get v nasty in my opinion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One the train to s. Wales I was chatting to a student from Shrewsbury who complained that they lived a few yards from the border and her sister would have to pay the full 9k whereas neighbours would only pay 4k, madness

And both of them will be going to university with students from Scotland, who are not paying any tuition fees at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welsh uni's are hiring, I went for ant interview at one (chair level) earlier this year and one of my ex students recently had an interview at another for a lectureship a few weeks ago

One the train to s. Wales I was chatting to a student from Shrewsbury who complained that they lived a few yards from the border and her sister would have to pay the full 9k whereas neighbours would only pay 4k, madness

Talking to colleagues the feeling was that Wales would protect Swansea and Cardiff, but i don't see how they can. In fact it could get v nasty in my opinion

It doesn't surprise me that they are continuing to interview and hire - carry on regardless, carry on in denial.

According to friends who lecture in the unis most of the staff think that the redundancies will not happen, or that if they do then it is everyone else who will be fired and, of course, there are plenty apparently oblivious to any crisis at all.

Wales now has too many Unis. Interestingly the former colleges of high education and polys which became unis have more vocational courses, links with employers and are offering degrees that provide real skills.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a UK-wide collective bargaining agreement in place that sets academics' salaries. The only wriggle room is that academics who bring in a lot of external research funding and/or are media stars frequently negotiate contracts that enable them to pocket the proceeds of their extra-curricular activities while retaining their standard university salary for doing very little work (for the actual university); but as far as the institution is concerned, they're paid exactly the same as their colleagues on the same grade.

The employers have been trying to break the collective agreement for several years now, but for some reason have not pushed this as far as they have pushed the pay freeze and changes to the USS (lecturers' pension scheme).

I do wonder why they haven't pushed this, as it is likely to be less controversial than the pension changes. I find it bizarre that my job description includes a lot of duties that my counterpart in a post-92, earning exactly the same money, does not have to do, e.g. carry out and publish original research and supervise PhD students. If the JNCHS decided to ram through an end to the collective bargaining agreement and let institutions set the pay levels for their academics locally, I'm sure that the resulting strike would get a lot less support than the one over the pension scheme. Of course what would happen is that most of the teaching staff in post-92s would see their pay fall in real terms very quickly, because most of them would not be able to make the jump to the traditional sector (I did, simply because I devoted most of my spare time to research during my first post-PhD job in a post-92, and therefore built up an equivalent publications record) and would have nowhere else to go. Within the traditional sector, a market would develop between departments in different institutions, with individual academics finding their market value within it. If such a system were introduced, I doubt very much if most of the academics at Oxbridge would strike in support of the the staff at the University of Luton wanting to remain on the same salaries.

Spot on, it is interesting to look at the real financial differences between post and pre 92 universities, fully funded pension schemes and assets...

Interesting story about the building of joderel bank by sir b. Lovell, basically he overspent to the tune of £m 's pounds building the thing, one of his eccentricities was buying up adjoining farms and buildings using university funds. Apparently the vc told him to "stop buying bloody farms- were a university!" of course the land is now worth millions .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And both of them will be going to university with students from Scotland, who are not paying any tuition fees at all.

Ah, but that is what people in Wales thought.

In reality, the Scottish Government will pay the fees to the Scottish unis - which is what Wales is intending to do.

Of course, whether Scotland pays the full 9K per year per student is an entirely different matter and, as in Wales, Scotland poteentially could be facing the same issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spot on, it is interesting to look at the real financial differences between post and pre 92 universities, fully funded pension schemes and assets...

Interesting story about the building of joderel bank by sir b. Lovell, basically he overspent to the tune of £m 's pounds building the thing, one of his eccentricities was buying up adjoining farms and buildings using university funds. Apparently the vc told him to "stop buying bloody farms- were a university!" of course the land is now worth millions .

What was his reasoning?

So once more the politicians make promises they can ill afford to keep, still it got them elected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What was his reasoning?

So once more the politicians make promises they can ill afford to keep, still it got them elected.

Apparently he claimed to he was worried that the land would be built on the resulting radio noise (microwave ovens etc) would interfere With the telescope...

I suspect that higher education will be the first place that the unsustainability of govt financial promises will become apparent to the average person...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a UK-wide collective bargaining agreement in place that sets academics' salaries. The only wriggle room is that academics who bring in a lot of external research funding and/or are media stars frequently negotiate contracts that enable them to pocket the proceeds of their extra-curricular activities while retaining their standard university salary for doing very little work (for the actual university); but as far as the institution is concerned, they're paid exactly the same as their colleagues on the same grade.

The employers have been trying to break the collective agreement for several years now, but for some reason have not pushed this as far as they have pushed the pay freeze and changes to the USS (lecturers' pension scheme).

I do wonder why they haven't pushed this, as it is likely to be less controversial than the pension changes. I find it bizarre that my job description includes a lot of duties that my counterpart in a post-92, earning exactly the same money, does not have to do, e.g. carry out and publish original research and supervise PhD students. If the JNCHS decided to ram through an end to the collective bargaining agreement and let institutions set the pay levels for their academics locally, I'm sure that the resulting strike would get a lot less support than the one over the pension scheme. Of course what would happen is that most of the teaching staff in post-92s would see their pay fall in real terms very quickly, because most of them would not be able to make the jump to the traditional sector (I did, simply because I devoted most of my spare time to research during my first post-PhD job in a post-92, and therefore built up an equivalent publications record) and would have nowhere else to go. Within the traditional sector, a market would develop between departments in different institutions, with individual academics finding their market value within it. If such a system were introduced, I doubt very much if most of the academics at Oxbridge would strike in support of the the staff at the University of Luton wanting to remain on the same salaries.

With tuition fees going up to £9k won't it just mean bubbly all round then via the collective bargaining? Then when they pay too much and subsequently get into financial difficulty, the government can bail them out and the tuition fees will have just gone on wages, paid for by taxpayers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With tuition fees going up to £9k won't it just mean bubbly all round then via the collective bargaining?

The £9k will barely cover universities' outgoings at their current level, let alone supplying 'bubbly all round' for their staff. That's why all except (IIRC) three institutions intend to charge the maximum.

This is not what either Labour (which would also have done something like this if they'd won the election, whatever they say now) or the Coalition expected. They thought that an open market would develop, whereby you pay the full whack to do medicine at Oxbridge at one end of the scale, and, say, £2-3k to do a combined honours in brewery management and windsurfing studies at the University of Luton.

The problem is that the University of Luton cannot lower its fees to £3k, or it will go bust within weeks. Of course the sums vary a bit from institution to institution, and the traditional universities are in a stronger position because they can bring in research funding, including from abroad, and attract more non-EU students who are charged a lot more (the amount universities can charge non-EU students is completely unregulated: I don't know what the figure is for sciences, but a typical undergrad, MA or a PhD student in a Russell Group history department of the sort I teach in can expect to pay £15-20k).

The post-92s have four options, which they will probably attempt to take in roughly this order.

1. Attract students paying the full £9k in the same numbers that they currently attract them paying £3k.

2. Reduce their operating costs either to compensate for lower student numbers, lower tuition fees or both.

3. Be bailed out by the government.

4. Go bust.

Whether they succeed in 1 is anybody's guess. The fact that new undergrads won't be paying anything up front or until they're earning above a certain amount may mean that the party carries on, at least for a few years. There are very limited choices involved with 2. The collective bargaining agreement prevents them from reducing academics' pay, and other branches of the higher education workforce are also heavily unionised. Many institutions, and especially the post-92s, have 'invested' (i.e. borrowed and spent) hundreds of millions each (several billions collectively) on new buildings and infrastructure in the last 10-15 years, and those debts have to be paid back. Then we'll be down to 3, which will be a case of the V-Cs collectively asking Gove and Cameron if they feel lucky, punk. Personally I think 4 is likely to end up happening in a few cases, though it might be restricted to a few sacrificial lambs to start with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And both of them will be going to university with students from Scotland, who are not paying any tuition fees at all.

Only if all of these students are going to a university in Scotland. Scottish students at university in other UK countries have to pay (possibly by taking out a loan) tuition fees.

And the Scottish system for assessing maintenance loans against parental income is much more severe (from the student/parent point of view) than that in England.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apparently he claimed to he was worried that the land would be built on the resulting radio noise (microwave ovens etc) would interfere With the telescope...

That was some telescope he had. It could see into the future!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Welsh economics faculties justify the redundancies: "the crisis was unexpected".

:lol:

I quite like to see a few of these guys on the jobs market- the sight of tenured academics singing the praises of 'the free market' always struck me a just a tiny bit hypocritical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:lol:

I quite like to see a few of these guys on the jobs market- the sight of tenured academics singing the praises of 'the free market' always struck me a just a tiny bit hypocritical.

Mmm....just for your information. Academics appointed on "permanent" contracts in the last decade in the UK do not have tenured positions, see http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=104896&sectioncode=26 for example. So firing them is really not that difficult and is being done. I know several that have been "let go" and/or forced into early retirement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mmm....just for your information. Academics appointed on "permanent" contracts in the last decade in the UK do not have tenured positions, see http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=104896&sectioncode=26 for example. So firing them is really not that difficult and is being done. I know several that have been "let go" and/or forced into early retirement.

Every university I know has a an RVS scheme running. At ours some staff are desperately seeking burdensome administrative role. Apparently they believe that the management will not make them redundant as they might have to do stuff themselves

Wrt redundancies, a pre 92 university physics school I know well has made several people redundant over the last few years, I knew one of the people well, after collecting his redundancy payment he immediately took up a post as head of physics at a famous public school and received a substantial payrise.

In fact last time I visited my old school (private) the head of physics-my (excellent) physics teacher-essentially offered me his post when we retires if I needed it. They were having no luck finding anyone who could remotely teach the subject.

Personally my get out would be to ask my good friends at a canadian university to give me a job. Even a post doc position out there gets a standard of living equivalent to a chair in the Uk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TMT, a very interesting situation, in some ways Wales is a victim of its own success as far as Universities go.

For a small part of the UK, with a population of 3 million (under 5%) it has 4 very good universities that are at least in the top 50. Also it is attractive for students, good social scene and costs are lower that in other places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TMT, a very interesting situation, in some ways Wales is a victim of its own success as far as Universities go.

For a small part of the UK, with a population of 3 million (under 5%) it has 4 very good universities that are at least in the top 50. Also it is attractive for students, good social scene and costs are lower that in other places.

Riots in Swansea?

:blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mmm....just for your information. Academics appointed on "permanent" contracts in the last decade in the UK do not have tenured positions, see http://www.timeshigh...&sectioncode=26 for example.

'Tenure' in the American sense of the word (i.e. you cannot be sacked, except possibly if you're caught buggering the V-C's dog) ended in 1988.

So firing them is really not that difficult and is being done. I know several that have been "let go" and/or forced into early retirement.

I don't believe that compulsory redundancies of academic staff are happening on any significant scale as yet. Our VC recently claimed in the corporate newsletter that no member of academic staff has ever been made compulsorily redundant in the institution's entire history. I presume he checked that fact before printing it, as the local UCU would have been quick to call him on it otherwise.

Like many institutions we have had a VRS. The problem with it was that many of the competent, hard workers who get the job done (research doesn't make them the next Einstein but is solid, and well-respected though probably not inspirational teachers) took the money and ran, being sick and tired of the incompetent management and leadership that pervades so many HEIs (ours isn't as bad as some, though we have our share). Given that most of today's fifty-something lecturers will have paid their mortgages off and the scheme offered to top their pensions up to what would have been their normal retirement age, it wasn't surprising that they decided to go. Sadly, it's the highly paid incompetents, and the star profs who do little or no teaching, who have stayed.

I don't think we're going to see redundancies on any significant scale. That would lead to strikes that the majority of academics would actually support. And as there is still quite a large proportion of the workforce aged 50 plus, a recruitment freeze in the medium term will probably be enough to reduce it to the extent needed by the likely drop in student numbers and research funding. The downside of this is that I'm really glad that I'm not a PhD student right now. Their job prospects in this country (in humanities and social sciences, at any rate), are going to be close to non-existent for quite some time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't believe that compulsory redundancies of academic staff are happening on any significant scale as yet.

<snip>

I don't think we're going to see redundancies on any significant scale.

I didn't say it were redundancies of academics on a massive scale, just that they are in fact happening on the ground in contrast to common believe. And in this case sometimes relatively young staff-members in the sub-40 category.

Whether or not they will be happening on a massive scale remains to be seen, however my expectation is that some institutes will have the choice between a major re-structuring or go bust when research cuts start to bite, which brings us back on topic. B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.