Update on reorganisation of Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Project SHAPE update


You will be aware that the University is currently engaged in the formal process of collective consultation with our campus trade unions, about proposed redundancies in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (HLS) as part of Project SHAPE. This proposal specifically relates to colleagues who are employed in the Faculty on Teaching and Research (T&R) contracts.

The project to restructure HLS commenced with an internal consultation process in 2018 and the primary objectives have remained unchanged: to focus on raising academic quality and maximising the societal impact of the Faculty’s research and expertise. These objectives have become all the more relevant in the context of the global pandemic, during which the Faculty’s world-changing research capability has come to the fore but, at the same time, COVID-19 has placed significant additional pressure on the University’s finances.

There is now an urgent need to address the financial position in the Faculty, while the objective of strengthening our academic endeavour continues to require new investment. The next and final phase of Project SHAPE aims to support both challenges by creating some financial headroom to invest in our most pressing priorities.

Proposed criteria

The University is committed to meaningful consultation and the concerns raised by campus trade unions during the collective consultation process have been taken into careful consideration in drafting revised criteria, which seek to provide a rounded assessment of individual contribution.

The adapted, proposed selection process identifies those potentially at risk of redundancy and includes the following elements:

  1. A quantitative assessment of the value of average research income.
  2. A qualitative assessment of the contribution to exceptional research outcomes including an evaluation of research publications, leadership of impact case studies, and knowledge exchange activity.
  3. In addition, as was the case with the original criteria, the panel considered any additional responsibilities undertaken, including leadership roles, any substantial contributions to teaching delivery and any personal circumstances which may have impacted on individual contribution.
  4. Individuals considered potentially at risk will be invited to participate in individual consultation meetings and put forward any information they feel requires further consideration before final decisions to confirm those at risk of redundancy are made.
  5. There will also be an Appeals Process once decisions have been finalised and individuals have been informed that they have been selected for redundancy.

The provisional assessment process is overseen by a panel consisting of the HLS Faculty Leadership Team.

Impact of these proposals

The proposals previously announced in January placed 47 colleagues potentially at risk of redundancy. The effect of applying the process outlined reduces the number to 32. All of those affected will be written to directly to explain the next steps, and those no longer in scope will also be informed.

The University believes the amended process and criteria outlined above demonstrates a considered response to the representations made during the course of collective consultation. It provides a rounded assessment by considering qualitative and quantitative data, along with various grounds for mitigation, and allows individuals the opportunity to highlight any supporting evidence they feel may not have been fully considered.

Collective consultation has resumed today, Wednesday 5 May 2021, and the revised proposals, modified criteria and rounded assessment process have been provided to and discussed in detail with the trade unions. At this stage we cannot confirm the definitive date on which collective consultation will reach a conclusion as we wish to provide an opportunity for detailed discussion of the revised proposals and the trade unions’ responses. We will confirm when this stage has been reached as soon as we are able to do so.

Once again, we would like to stress that the University does not make proposals of redundancies lightly, and we are working hard to limit the impact that the proposals, including offering potentially affected colleagues a significant voluntary severance package. We fully understand that news of proposed redundancies is upsetting and unsettling for colleagues and we are continuing to answer questions, allay concerns and offer support and guidance wherever it is needed. These are extremely difficult decisions, but ones we need to make in order for the Faculty to achieve a sustainable footing.

The accompanying business case for this proposal is available here.