Report on meeting with management on Biosciences course closure on 14 July 2015                      

UCU raised concerns about “institutional bullying” – that academic staff are being ‘picked on’, undermined, denigrated and unfairly victimised and then being threatened with redundancies. UCU would not expect management to admit this, even if true. Denial is part of “Institutional bullying”, just as recognising the problem is a major part of solving it.  

It is necessary therefore to subject the case of Bio-Sciences to the test of evidence and facts. In discussion with academic staff there is a view that there have been aspects of bullying/mismanagement prior to the arrival of the new Dean in October 2014.

Documentation and method

In the case of Health and Social Care political and economic factors were identified separately. UCU is concerned that a different approach has been taken in Biosciences. No economic or financial data has been provided. This could give weight to the case that data is chosen ‘unscientifically’ – a ‘pick and mix’ selection to secure a predetermined outcome.        

Data issues

The data provided is flawed or missing or incomplete.

Consultation issues

There should be real consultation with staff and students prior to the issue of the 45 day notice. In the case of Institutional Bullying there will be little or no consultation. Any plan will, by its nature, be confidential or secret, since the real motives have to be concealed. 

UCU requests a Timeline for the consultation process which identifies who knew what and when did they know it? UCU recalls Deputy VC Professor Pat Bailey at a meeting in June saying the decision to close the course was taken nine months ago. The new Dean was in post in October 2014. The staff called a meeting on 10 December and this was held on 16/17 December. UCU is asking these and other dates to be confirmed.   

Proposals for new Courses 

UCU is concerned that the proposals for a new course to replace existing course are not ‘robust’ in conception, in academic rigour or business application. The plans are incomplete and there is no validation or clear delivery plan. There has been no serious market analysis.     

Treatment of staff   

It is possible or likely that a claim of “poor staff” is the underlying rationale. This is not explicitly stated, but can be read “between the lines”. This theory was supported when the Dean met staff in December 2014. The Dean was asked if he had 1-2-1 meetings with individual staff since his arrival last October and the answer was no.       

UCU Co-ordinating Committee

[PS We will report on a further meeting today later and progress made]