THE LOOKING J 2014 GLASS S une
welcome from your editor I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t fully understand all the ins and outs about how universities are funded, and I’m not naturally ‘businessminded’. However, recent events at the IoP have encouraged me to do a bit of research and try to make sense of exactly why around 15% of staff across the KCL Health School face losing their jobs. Indeed, the new editorial team for The Looking Glass has formed at a time of great upheaval for the Institute of Psychiatry. Due to recent changes to funding for universities, public money available for things such as ‘capital projects’ (buildings, facilities, and infrastructure) has been cut and so needs to be raised elsewhere. At KCL, this shortfall is being addressed by the loss of 120 staff from their positions across the Schools of Biomedical Science, Medicine, and the Institute of Psychiatry. However, KCL students have risen up to support their academics and oppose the job cuts. As you will see in the following pages, they are proposing that alternatives are sought to raise the money needed by the college. What is all the fuss about? Are you somewhat lost when it comes to funding, government policies, and the idea of universities as a business? The new editorial team bring you this special issue aiming to give you as much information as we can gather, focusing on how the situation might affect students, and trying to shed a little bit of light on the wider context. This is because whilst the situation is most worrying for staff who are at risk of being made redundant, we as students also have a vested interest. Looking at the coverage so far, we round up on pages 2-3 some of the reasons all students should be concerned about the redundancies. We then report in more detail about these issues by speaking to important stakeholders. Finally, we give you all the information you need to be part of the ‘Stop KCL Health School redundancies’ petition and campaign. This is a tense time for staff at KCL but it’s also an important concern for the student body. It need not be a time of panic or confusion if we ensure that we are kept informed about developments, and that we are part of the decision-making processes that affect our time at KCL. By taking action, we might even be able to impact events over the next few weeks and months. This situation also has wider implications. Funding for universities has changed over the past few years, after the recession sent us into an ‘age of austerity’. Understanding the exact impact of the economic downturn and reductions in government spending can be challenging even for economists, but it seems that as public funding to universities is cut, more of the onus is on institutions to raise funds in other ways. Thus, the increase in tuition fees, which now form a large bulk of funding for universities, seem to be paying for many things other than just plain old tuition for the students. Attracting new students is therefore key to a university’s success as, in the newly competitive market, the more students an institution can attract the more money is brought in. The effect such a business market may have on standards of teaching, the focus of universities, and more broadly for science in the UK is clearly difficult to predict. Many other countries invest far more than us in their science and research, and yet our government has announced the aim to make Britain ‘the best place in the world to do science’. We must take responsibility for trying to understand the ways in which universities are being funded, and what this means for us as students. We must ensure that decisions are made transparently and that the very people whose pockets are squeezed to support universities are engaged in the decisions that may have direct and indirect impacts on the experience they gain whilst studying. If we inherit a research environment in which money drives activity, we must find a way for this to exist harmoniously alongside the drive of pursuing science for knowledge and the good it can do for individuals and society. Of course, if we don’t want to inherit such a system, we need to work now to change it. Rhianna Editor-in-Chief
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Staff redundancies: why should we care? Clearly, our positions as students (whether undergraduate or postgraduate, taught or research) are safe. So, in what ways might the proposed cuts affect us? You might find it easy to see what impact a reduced number of academic staff may have on the experiences of the student body but some of the implications are more subtle than others. Here, we provide a brief overview of just some of the key issues. The Looking Glass
CL already ranks at the lowest in the country for student satisfaction, and the danger is that this can only worsen after losing such a high proportion of our academics. Those at risk of being made redundant are potentially our supervisors and lecturers, the loss of which may directly affect the quality of training and supervision that can be provided to us. Whilst KCL representatives insist that “We have more than enough spare capacity to deliver high quality teaching even with the estimated reduction in academic staff” (Professor Lechler), the speed at which these decisions have been made and the lack of consultation of both students and staff fail to inspire any confidence in these assertions. (See page 5 for Professor Susan Lea’s take on how negative impact on student experience will be managed at the IoP.)
Impact on the reputation of King’s
Cutting staff endangers the reputation that has emerged from the hard work of individuals carrying out pioneering research. The university relies on this reputation to attract new students and world-leaders in research to work here. (These views are echoed by SIr Robin Murray, page 8).
A Disadvantaged groups
taff members at risk will be chosen based on an individual’s teaching activity and research grant income. There are a variety of reasons to be dubious about the criteria used but most importantly, there is a concern that it may disproportionately affect women. Naturally, those taking maternity leave, taking sick leave, or working part-time or flexibly may be at a disadvantage. The full impact on women in particular is hard to predict. However, statements from Professor Sir Robert Lechler, VicePrincipal (Health) have assured us that it is recognized certain groups will be at a disadvantage, and that additional factors such as those mentioned will be considered on an individual basis.
any of us were attracted to King’s due to its outstanding reputation for world-class research and pioneering clinical science. Part and parcel of this reputation is the staff upon the shoulders of which the university is built. Although research facilities, innovative technology, and state of the art equipment are great tools for carrying out research, the importance of investing in people cannot be understated. After all, it is the academics who actually provide training and develop skills in students through The IoP is currently working supervision, lecturing, and small towards the Silver Athena SWAN group teaching. award (see our special issue of The
The Looking Glass
Looking Glass from September last year for more on the Athena SWAN charter: http://issuu. com/thelookingglass/docs/the_ looking_glass_issue_three__2_), which promotes an equal and inclusive working environment. Not only is this a worthwhile aim, but to be considered for future BRC funding it is essential for research institutes to meet criteria for this award. We need to ensure that the redundancies will not prove detrimental to the aim for equality at the IoP. (See page 7 for a reaction to this from the Athena SWAN team at the IoP.)
n overarching concern for many students, as well as members of the University and College Union (UCU,) is the lack of transparency in the handling of the situation. Staff and students have not been engaged in the process, increasing feelings of anxiety and confusion. UCU have also raised concerns that the short consultation period used has prevented ‘meaningful consultation’ from taking place.
Find out more These issues and more are covered in detail on the petition webpage: http://www.change.org/en-GB/ petitions/rick-trainor-stop-kclhealth-school-redundancies You can also find out more from GKT Gazette: http://www. gktgazette.org. uk/?p=1049
is the college proposing ?
KCL produced a presentation (available at https://internal.kcl.ac.uk/health/index.aspx), which provides information on why funds need to be raised and their proposed approach (Figure One). They say they are committed to ‘increasing our income’, ‘controlling our costs’, and ‘raising our performance’. They also say that they have explored all the options for ‘revenue generation, cost reduction and rebalancing finances across college’.
Figure One: Taken from the Health Schools Restructuring Proposal What’s happening over the next few weeks? The College has provided a timeline of events for the next few weeks, outlining what we can expect to happen and when. Early June: Individual meetings with affected staff June 16th to 20th: Second panel meets to review written representations Week commencing June 27th: Collective consultation meeting July 7th: End of the formal consultation meeting July 10th: Staff and unions notified of outcome of consultation July 14th: Affected staff notified Weeks commencing July 14th/21st: Individual consultation meetings Week commencing July 28th: Review meetings for at risk staff August 8th: Formal notice letters of dismissal issued
What do KCLSU say? We obtained this comment from KCLSU President, Sebastiaan Debrouwere: “We believe these cuts are misguided and will significantly affect the teaching and supervision of students. It’s absolutely vital that King’s extends the consultation period. The current proposals will cause irreparable damage to a learning community we all love and care about so much.” The Looking Glass
POINTS OF VIEW Prof. Susan Lea
Vice-Dean (Education )
What exactly is happening and why? As Vice Dean of Education at the IoP, I would like to clarify why the proposals to restructure the School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, and Institute of Psychiatry are necessary: King’s College London, like many other universities, is facing difficult choices. Over recent years, the external higher education environment has changed significantly bringing new challenges. Every day it is becoming harder to maintain and build the level of excellence we aspire to now we are in the top league of universities. Undertaking the level and quality of research which is fundamental to our continued success is more and more expensive. The changes to student funding have largely been cancelled out by the reduction in teaching grants, and capital grants have all but disappeared. It is clear that we cannot expect any change in the external funding environment that will address these issues for us, at least in the foreseeable future. These factors coupled with our ambition to offer the best education to the best students and to continue delivering the highest quality research mean the pressures to improve performance, to be as efficient as possible, and to invest in the best faculty and support will continue to grow. Doing nothing is not an option, as a failure to invest will result in a decline in standards and ultimately mean a poorer experience for our students. Who is being affected by the redundancies/who is likely to go? The proposals are subject to consultation with staff and trade unions until early July. The timeline aims to provide certainty to staff and students as quickly as possible. Staff who already make a significant contribution to education - including teaching, pastoral care, and administration – and/or research, have been informed this week that they will not form part of the process. We will know more once the consultation period has concluded. How will this affect students at the IoP? We have no interest in making changes that will impact negatively on the standard of student education at the IoP or in the other two Schools. We have looked carefully at the range of expertise required to deliver our programmes and how our academic staff in the IoP, School of Medicine, and School of Biomedical Sciences currently spend their time. Staff who already make a significant contribution to education are not included in the proposed changes. We have more than enough spare capacity to deliver high quality teaching even with the estimated reduction in academic staff. What is the college doing to try to lessen the effects of the redundancies on student experience? I am working with colleagues across the Health Schools and within the IoP, as well as with the IoP student forum, to minimise the potential impact of restructuring on education and the student experience through contingency planning. If the proposals resulted in potential changes to supervisory or personal tutor arrangements – and it is too early to say at this stage - we would engage with students on an individual basis to discuss the support mechanisms we would put in place to prepare for any change. What can students do if they have questions or concerns? I have met with student reps and the IoP Student Forum and am keen to continue to engage with the wider study body at the IoP. Students can address any concerns to me, the Heads of Graduate Studies (Research – Professor Jon Cooper; Taught – Dr Jenny Yiend) or their Head of Department. The College will take all student representations into consideration before any final decisions are made.
The Looking Glass
Across King’s College London, all schools are facing measures imposed by those at the top of the college to raise money, which is needed to fund “capital projects” for the university. Capital funding is allocated to support buildings, equipment, and information technology for higher education. In recent years, government funding for this has been cut and so the College needs to get the money from elsewhere. In order to raise £6 million, the KCL Health Schools (IoP, Biomedical Sciences and, Medical School) are currently undergoing “restructuring”, whereby up to 120 academic staff will be made redundant. No other departments in KCL are facing job losses on this level.
POINTS OF VIEW Lindsey Hines
IoP Student Forum Chair
As this is happening across all of the Health Schools, not all of those 120 staff will be lost from the IoP. Staff are initially being broadly assessed by their teaching hours and by the research income that they have brought to the university. Once this has produced a large pool, more detailed information will be used to assess who will be made redundant. In real terms, this means that a number of staff members will be uncertain about their academic futures between now and the end of August and after that, we may see a drop in teaching staff. MSc courses are currently putting in place contingency plans so that they can continue to run at the same capacity next academic year, and current MSc students are unlikely to be affected. The largest risk will be to PhD students, some of whom may have supervisors who are at risk or, in the worst case scenario, may lose their supervisors as a result of the restructuring. As the key student representative body at the IoP, the Student Forum Chairs have been involved in a number of capacities communicating student concerns to senior IoP staff and working to ensure that these changes do not damage student education. This has involved regularly meeting with Susan Lea (Vice-Dean of Education) to raise potential issues, seek answers, and discuss safeguards being put in place for students. Key issues which we have raised are: • The process for supporting PhD students who lose supervisors; • Whether supervisors are obligated to inform students if they are at risk. As it has transpired that they are not, we have highlighted how this may affect students and the timing at which contingency plans will be put in place; • The potential for extra workload to fall to PhD students if there is a decrease in departmental staff; • The effects on student pastoral care; • The effect this will have on MSc feedback times; • Concerns about MSc summer projects; • Teaching capacity for next year’s MScs. From the start of this process, Susan has always been available for us to come to with concerns from students, has provided satisfactory answers our queries, and has been receptive to our suggestions. I believe that Susan Lea, Jon Cooper, Jenny Yiend, and all of the Education Support Team will ensure that students are supported and that high educational standards are maintained at the IoP. Thanks to the dedication of our strong educational team, students are facing the minimum possible disruption in these circumstances. However, the primary concern amongst many students is the effect on the wellbeing of supervisors and colleagues. This is why the Student Forum is working closely with KCLSU to oppose the decision to make redundancies in the Health Schools. The move to make redundancies was out of the hands of any of the managing staff at the IoP and given that this is a decision with potentially serious implications for future teaching and research at the schools, we think it was wrong to not consult with staff and students on the foreseen impacts before the redundancy decision was announced. We also want to be certain that the decision to make redundancies was reached as a final resort, and all other options to raise the required funds have been explored. The Student Forum and IoP student volunteers have been working with KCLSU and students from the other Health Schools to put together a petition against the redundancies. It’s on Change.org and at last count, there were over 2,000* signatures - and the number is still rising. To have a shot at being effective in fighting these changes, we need to show that the IoP students to whom the College is ultimately accountable are vocally opposed to what is happening. If you agree, talk to the staff around you, share the petition with your friends and colleagues, and please take part in the other actions that will be happening. Together we stand a chance of saving our staff. * At time of publication
The Looking Glass
POINTS OF VIEW The Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team
Given the criteria that are being used to decide on who is at risk of redundancy, there is a concern that certain groups, particularly women, will be disproportionately affected by the job cuts. The Athena SWAN initiative was launched in 2005 and aims to challenge inequities faced by women in academia. The IoP has a self-assessment team, charged with investigating current sources of inequity at the institute, and formulating and implementing action plans to address these. We therefore asked them to comment on the news of the job cuts at the IoP. They gave us the following statement: â€œThe Athena SWAN Champions Network (which includes the Athena SWAN leads from Schools and Divisions across the College) have made strong representations about the issues and have been trying to ensure at the very least that the processes are as fair to all staff as possible. The Network provided feedback on phase one of the restructuring process, which has been acted on. Colleagues can now make representations regarding special circumstances, which include a range of factors including maternity leave. There is ongoing support from Athena SWAN at the IoP for those who have been affected.â€?
Want more information? Visit the KCL webpages to find out more about the initiative and training/development opportunities, as well as the Self Assessment Team and relevant KCL policies. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/about/Women-in-Science/index. aspx 07
The Looking Glass
Redundancies: The Responsibility lies with KCL’s negligent management of the IoP In the 50 years in which it existed as an independent organisation, the IoP never had to resort to mass redundancies. However, since the IoP merged with KCL, this has happened twice. Once might be regarded as unfortunate; twice in 5 years can only be seen as reflecting very badly on the quality of KCL management of the Institute.
POINTS OF VIEW Sir Robin Murray, FRS Professor of Psychiatric Research
As we at the IoP know from our experience of five years ago, compulsory redundancies have at least three very unfortunate consequences. Firstly, they ruin the academic careers of some promising researchers who are misclassified as failures. Secondly, they destroy the morale of the staff and consequently some tenured staff are so dismayed that they leave, while some young colleagues take their Fellowships elsewhere. Finally, they damage the reputation of the institution, making it very difficult for the Dean to recruit first-rate academics to join us. The result of the latter two factors has been that the previous steady rise in IoP research income stalled. So, paradoxically, one of the reasons for the present crisis lies in the financial damage brought upon the IoP by the last round of redundancies. Of course, adverse financial pressures are affecting many universities. However, other “Russell Group” universities have not generally adopted the drastic action proposed by Kings College. This raises two questions. First, how did KCL management get themselves into this mess? We all know that any competent university asks its finance officers to make projections for the medium term, as well as the year ahead. Either the Health School financial projections were inaccurate or they were not acted on in time to avoid the present crisis. The second question is why were other remedies such as freezing posts, seeking voluntary redundancies or seeking help from other financially stronger parts of KCL not tried first, before leaping into compulsory redundancies? The above views are obviously my own. However, a large number of IoP staff have contacted me expressing their dismay at the situation. A quote from a very able colleague illustrates the risks that we are running: “I must admit that despite the fact that I should be OK thanks to my grant income, the whole thing is making me wonder whether KCL is the right place for me or whether I should look for greener pastures elsewhere, as indeed many other people are ...” Professor Lechler and KCL Council need to realise that it has not been the work of individual academics that has been inadequate but rather KCL’s Management of the IoP. It is not too late to stop, or at least ameliorate, this self-destructive policy, and seek a more constructive solution to the current financial difficulties.
Whilst KCL in general ranks pretty low in terms of student satisfaction, the IoP has used the PTES since 2010 to monitor how satisfied their own students are. We asked Will Fitzmaurice of the Education Support Team how the results from the survey have changed over recent years. He told us, “What is noticeable from PTES 2010-11 onwards is a gradual improvement in rates for almost all areas. This is hopefully a reflection of the extra focus that has been placed on education at the IoP, and the investment for example in the Education Hub, new library space etc. The improvement isn’t consistent in all areas, and hasn’t risen across the board for the whole period. We’re hopeful that we’ll continue to improve satisfaction rates though, as we continue the focus on education.”
Education Support Team
The Looking Glass
Open meeting for students Lan Mao reports from the meeting for students to discuss the restructuring, held on Wednesday 11th June. Professor Jon Cooper (Head of Graduate Studies, Research), Professor Susan Lea (Vice-Dean of Education), and Lindsey Hines were present to address questions from PGR students. We live in somewhat challenging times, and with the recent unpropitious threat of restructuring affecting our three healthcare schools, various questions were raised in the meeting on what the future will hold for both students and staff. It was explained by both professors that the main purpose of the meeting was to provide reassurance that the pending changes would not adversely affect our learning experiences. My impressions of students’ reactions were as follows. A number of students wanted to know what would happen if their research supervisors were made redundant. How would this influence the continuity, write-up, and marking of their work? Others posed questions on the actual decision-making process leading up to these events, such as who was consulted before the decision was finalised, implying a sense of unfairness and scepticism on how justified these plans really were. Clearly, there were concerns for the welfare of staff who are most likely affected by the proposition. Some students inquired on how many of the affected staff were trade union members. Whilst solid answers could not be provided on this, suggestions of this figure being low was later debunked as a ‘myth’ by some attendees of the meeting. The quality of teaching was another area identified by students as being potentially negatively affected, as anticipated by possible increases in teaching workload as well as a potentially less advantageous student-to-faculty staff ratio. In response, Professor Susan Lea maintained that such changes would have little impact, since staff are dedicated to teaching a minimum of one day per week (i.e., 20% of their time). She added that the staff-tostudent ratio will continue to be in the top third of Russell Group universities, and the second highest in London. On the whole and despite all reassurances, there remains a degree of uncertainty on what the long-term outcomes will be. As mentioned in the meeting, such unfortunate events are coinciding with other developments taking place, such as the introduction of an undergraduate psychology degree, to be based at the Department of Psychology at the IoP. It will be interesting to know what challenges (and as one student pointed out, opportunities) arise from this. What is certain, however, is the sadness and anxiety felt by our community on what appears to be an inevitable consequence of our ever-changing funding landscape. The atmosphere in the Small Lecture Theatre where the meeting was held contained, to say the least, an air of tension. As reiterated by Professor Jon Cooper, who personally knew of colleagues caught up in the same restructuring exercise three to four years ago, it is a difficult time for us all. Nevertheless, the College has a commitment to the education of its PGR students, and is working hard to minimise the effects of the restructuring process upon students.
The Looking Glass
SIGN THE PETITION!
ing’s College London Students’ Union has started ook out for circulars providing information about a petition against the proposed job cuts across meetings and any updates from KCLSU. The the health schools. Specifically, they are calling for Education Support Team, and Professors Jon Cooper the following measures: and Susan Lea, are all doing their best to keep us informed and involved as far as they can! “1. Extend the consultation period from 45 to 90 days, and have meaningful two-way consultations open to he job cuts have also been reported in university staff, students and unions. media, as well as national media. Read the 2. Exhaustively explore and outline alternatives to coverage by following the links: redundancies. 3. Comprehensively assess the detrimental impacts of The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/higherredundancies on teaching and research. education-network/2014/jun/05/kings-college4. Issue a response to all staff, students and unions in london-cut-jobs-to-fund-university-buildings the Health Schools within 5 working days of receipt of this petition.” The Times: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/ news/strike-ballot-at-kings-college-london-overIf you would like to contribute, you can sign the proposed-job-cuts/2013763.article petition here: KCLSU: https://www.kclsu.org/news/article/kclsu/ https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/rick- Statement-Save-Our-Health-Schools/ . trainor-stop-kcl-health-school-redundancies .
Keep up to date with the KCLSU campaign by joining the ‘Stop Redundancies in Our Health Schools! (Campaign Group)’ Facebook page. Also check out our website to see Professor Robert Lechler’s response to the petition, and the students’ reply to his comment. The documents can be downloaded from our newspages: http://iopmag.wix.com/thelookingglass#!news-and-events/c1pz
Editor-in-chief Rhianna GoozĂŠe Assistant Editor Steffen Nestler Editorial Board Amanda Worker Francisco De Santiago Sam Mukhopadhyay With thanks to Lan Mao Lindsey Hines KCLSU Professor Susan Lea Athena SWAN SAT members Artwork and images All images are used with the permission of MicrosoftÂŽ.
Published on Jun 14, 2014
Published on Jun 14, 2014
This special issue has been produced in response to the job cuts taking place across KCL Health Schools. With input from KCLSU, the student...