University sets out proposals for its future development

The University of Sussex announced to its staff today (24 November 2009) a package of measures intended to strengthen its position among the UK's leading research universities.

Many universities are facing financial difficulties following a reduction in Government funding this year and the prospect of further such reductions in future. The University is looking to save £5 million in 2010-11 on an annual turnover of £160 million and is responding by investing in successful areas of the University, and making significant savings in targeted areas.

In laying out the proposals, which would also involve a reduction of up to 100 posts out of 2,300 staff, Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing said: "These are tough times and the University is far from alone in the higher education sector in facing a financial challenge.  We have had to take a close look at how we can offer the very best to our students and staff and strengthen our position within the top 5% of universities in the world.

"We need to continue investing in our strengths and developing our research in new areas, such as climate change, bio-medical engineering, medicinal chemistry and digital humanities, which complement our current expertise.  Regrettably, this also involves losing staff in some areas where student demand has fallen."

Other areas already identified for growth include the University's new Schools of Business, Management and Economics; Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Global Studies; and Media, Film and Music. New degrees have been successfully introduced -  with growth of over 50% this year alone in the number of overseas postgraduate students coming to study at Sussex.

Consultations on the proposals are now taking place with campus trades unions and staff affected. No decisions will be made until the consultation is completed in March 2010 and no posts would end before July 2010. Full information is being provided to all staff and students, with opportunities for comment and feedback.

Professor Farthing said: "We do not embark lightly on changes which result in posts being lost.  No one wants to see their friends and colleagues lose their jobs.  Where possible we will try to avoid compulsory redundancies.  Staff affected by the changes will receive our support and help."

He added: "The University of Sussex has an international reputation and produces research of international excellence across the disciplines. We attract world-class academics and have seen our international student numbers rise by 45% since 2006.  We are extremely proud of this."

"I am confident that the steps we are proposing will help safeguard our future as one of the UK's top research universities."

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Tuesday, 24 November 2009