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University of Sussex takes planned approach to address finances

Staff at the University of Sussex are being asked to consider how their departments should respond to the economic downturn and to reductions in the government funding of higher education.

Along with all other UK universities and much of the public sector, the University of Sussex is facing a deteriorating financial position resulting from cuts in public funding - current and planned - that requires an immediate response.

Senior managers at Sussex are taking a strategic approach to addressing the University's long-term finances that encompasses investment for growth, significant savings in targeted areas, and continued investment in the capital infrastructure of the campus.

The core principle, as set out in the University's strategic plan for 2009-15, is to seek opportunities for growth. This means identifying areas in teaching and research for development and expansion and making sure that they have the support needed to grow.

In 2009-10 the University will start to see the fruits of its first major investment campaign, with new degree programmes in business, management, economics and international security.

"Without this successful growth, the University's financial position would be significantly worse," says the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing.

To fund further growth, the University's budget for 2009-10 seeks to reduce costs by £3m on a turnover of £160m, with additional savings of up to £5m in 2010-11.

These savings will not be achieved by implementing across-the-board reductions. Instead, senior academics are being asked to consider their entire teaching and research portfolio, to ensure they are focused on areas that are attractive to students and are likely to perform well in future national assessments of research quality.

Professor Farthing says: "Regrettably, the need to make savings means that some jobs could be at risk, although I must emphasise that we have no proposals of any kind as yet. I recognise that this is an unsettling time for all staff and the campus community at Sussex."

Meanwhile, the University will continue to invest in key infrastructure developments on its campus for teaching, learning and research as well as in new student housing.

Professor Farthing says: "The development of the campus is necessary to sustain growth and improvement over the long term and is critically important if the University is to be successful. And of course we remain absolutely committed to enhancing the experience that our students have at Sussex."

Discussions on the financial situation are being held over the summer with managers across the University. Briefing sessions are also being held with representatives of the campus trades unions and with student representatives.

Initial proposals will be presented in the autumn for consultation and wider discussion by staff and students before decisions are made over the winter.

Professor Farthing says: "I firmly believe that the cost reductions on the scale indicated are achievable. I am confident that, with the right planned and measured approach, we will respond effectively to the serious and sustained financial challenges facing us."

Last updated: Monday, 3 August 2009