8 research fellows in the School of Education where on 4th November 2010, were formally placed at risk of redundancy as a consequence of a review of research staff carried out during the Summer. This review started on the 16/7/10. Staff were invited to provide information on their research, teaching and administrative workloads and details of funding. They were only given a period of 5 days to so, with opportunities for input closing on the 21/7/10, a ridiculously short period of time considering many staff were on leave in the summer.
The review itself was based on outdated information from previous reviews. Its methodology it employed only looked at a snapshot of time between Oct ‘09- July ‘10, which unsurprising has not led to an accurate picture of the education department.
Furthermore, the review is, in part, based on a workload allocation model that seems was only partially adopted by the School. While research staff sent at least 13 pages of collected comments, points of inaccuracies, the final report which the university management acted on remained virtually unaltered and still contained typos, wrong grades of staff and misspelling of names.
Additionally , The involvement of an external consultant is good practice in a review of this nature and in the subsequent redundancy consultation process.No external consultant has been used.
The review itself undermined many of its own principles; including retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research; recognising and valuing researchers as a key component of delivering world-class research; strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers; promoting personal and career development at all stages of a researcher’s career.
The performance of the research staff in question is being judged against narrow job specification criteria outlined by the College, but never made explicit in contracts of employment. Despite being encouraged to undertake different duties by the School in the past, in particular key administrative and teaching roles and RAE/REF activities, it now seems these are viewed inappropriate for research staff.
I believe this entire process must be restarted, this time done fairly and the staff in the education department given an apology, for the needless stress caused them by the manner of the review.