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Specialist partners to manage campus facilities and catering
The University is planning to work with specialist external organisations to manage its estates and facilities and to provide the campus catering and conferencing services from August 2013.
The University yesterday (Wednesday 9 May) told trades unions and directly affected staff that it is going through a formal process to identify high-quality specialist organisations that can best meet its needs and, by March 2013, should have identified preferred suppliers, with a view to their providing these services from August 2013.
John Duffy, Registrar and Secretary, said: “We expect to see continued growth at Sussex as we attract greater numbers of high-quality students from the UK and overseas, and expand our research activity. Student numbers at Sussex have grown by 2,000 in just the last two years, reaching 12,000 this year, and we are planning for 15,000 by 2015-16.”
“We have already made significant improvements in our estate and facilities to services to students and staff, and we need now to sustain those improvements into the future.”
“As we grow, we need to ensure we provide support services to our students and staff as efficiently and effectively as possible – making best use both of public funding and, increasingly, of our students’ own investment.
“As one part of doing this, we are now looking to work with specialist external organisations to manage our estate and facilities and to provide our catering and conferencing services. These are areas where there is already a range of experienced, specialist, external organisations.”
The University’s plans involve 235 staff, out of the 2,200 employees at Sussex. Under these plans, directly affected staff will, from August 2013, transfer to and be employed by the new providers. A list of the services involved is available online, together with further information about the project.
The Registrar stressed that this process is not about seeking to reduce staff numbers: “As this is about growth and sustaining and improving the quality of what we do, we are not proposing to make redundancies.”
“The plans to work with external partners are not a criticism of the contribution individual staff make to the current services. The plans involve the current staff continuing to provide services, but transferring to new providers.”
Under TUPE regulations (the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006), staff would transfer on their current terms and conditions (with the exception of future participation in university pension schemes).
John Duffy added: “We also expect that staff will have additional opportunities for professional and career development by being within a larger organisation that is focussed on these areas of activity as its core business.
“We want to ensure staff have the right support throughout this period. We have started the process of informing and consulting our trades unions and the individual staff concerned.” The published timeline shows that between May 2012 and spring 2013 is a period of communication, and that there is a formal period of TUPE information and consultation once suppliers have been chosen.
The University already works with a range of external providers that deliver services on the campus: for example, it uses external partners to provide grounds-maintenance services, and most of its cleaning and laundry services.
It also has external providers for its internal audit, legal services, senior staff recruitment, large-scale printing, design services and the international foundation year on campus. Most recently the University has been finalising an agreement with an external provider to provide its crèche and nursery childcare services.